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Parties split over government deal


Yes: Green Party’s Cleo Murphy

Yes: Green Party’s Cleo Murphy

Yes: Green Party’s Cleo Murphy

The four Kerry Green Party representatives have voted in favour of the Programme for Government. The final result of the three-party coalition Government will be known on Friday afternoon with voting taking place this week among party members in each constituency.

The Green Party needs two-thirds of their party to vote in favour of the Programme for Government to pass. While the four party representatives in Kerry - Ann Marie Fuller, Diarmaid Griffin, Paul Bowler and Cleo Murphy, have voted Yes, it is understood that there have been mixed reactions among the general membership of the party.

Former General Election candidate, Cleo Murphy, said this she voted Yes because she believes the policies in the Programme for Government will help people make the life-style changes that are needed.

"I am conscious that for people to make changes you have to make it easy for them to make changes and initiatives like the deep retro-fit for houses and public transport improvements that will be put in place will help people make the life-style changes that are needed."

However, there has been pockets of strong opposition in Kerry amongst Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors to the Programme for Government over the demise of the Shannon LNG project.

Several county councillors from both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are voting against the Government programme because of the North Kerry project.

All seven Fine Gael councillors are voting against the programme with five of the ten Kerry delegates voting against also - but it's expected to have negligible impact due to the weighting of the vote within the party. The parliamentary party accounts for 50 per cent of the vote, with councillors' representing just 15 per cent.

Junior Minister Brendan Griffin, is in favour of the Programme for Government, as is MEP Sean Kelly.

However, delegates in the party, who represent the views of the non-elected party members are divided on the programme and are likely to vote 5: 5 for and against the new programme.

Fine Gael Councillor, Patrick Connor Scarteen, who is set to become the Mayor of Kerry next week, is also opposed to the programme for Government. His main concerns centre around future Government stability not only in the current five year term but in future Government formations. He has also raised concerns about some rural policies and about the loss of Shannon LNG.

"I am voting no for an amalgamation of reasons .. I am concerned there is no specific costings so how it will be implemented and also concerned about future political stability of the country."

Meanwhile a number of Fianna Fail councillors in the county are also voting against the new programme for Government including Cllr John Francis Flynn who has long spoken out against his party joining forces with Fine Gael and the Greens. He is a member of the so-called Fianna Fáil Fairer Future group made up of 50 councillors who are opposed to the programme for Government.

Cllr Flynn said this week the demise of the Shannon LNG project is a key factor in his decision but he has long been opposed to this coalition. "I am standing in solidarity with my North Kerry colleagues. The loss of Shannon LNG is a massive blow to the whole of Kerry. We should stick together on it. I would expect North Kerry councillors to stand with us if it was a South Kerry project." Cllr Flynn said he was also opposed to 'green' policies. "They [Green policies] are not good for rural Ireland. They will have us all on bicycles in five years."

He said he had concerns about maintenance of local roads in Kerry given the commitment to cycling infrastructure. He also believes the Programme for Government will end turf cutting in Ireland and that any councillor voting for the Government programme was against turf-cutting. Cllr Fionnán Fitzgerald, who is the FF representative on the Ard Comhairle, said he too was voting against the Programme for Government as it is "not good" for rural Ireland.

"I live, work in and represent a rural electoral area. I am passionate about our rural economy, our people and our way of life. I am very concerned about the contents of the Programme with particular regard to agriculture and to the future existence of a vibrant and thriving rural Ireland under the framework as laid down. At best I cannot see rural Ireland receiving its fair share of access to a fair and equitable way of life as it stands. At worst The Programme threatens the lifeblood of the community I represent." Tralee councillor, Mikey Sheehy has also come out against the programme for Government. He will be voting No because he believes it is not " a good deal for Kerry."

Despite some vocal opposition to the programme it is believed that the party will pass it. Within Fianna Fáil the county's 10 councillors and every party member has a vote and all votes are worth the same. It's understood that votes will be counted by constituency within the party but it is not known if this information will be released.