A simple warning for the Green Party: don't screw us on this
Hey, Green Party. This might sound crazy but... I'm from the future.
And I'm here to warn you that very bad things will happen if you accept Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil's offer to enter government as their junior coalition partners. I'm talking lose all your seats, never-trusted-again, no-more-wolves-for-Eamon-Ryan bad.
But I accept that there are plenty of people, not just Mícheál, Leo and the lads, who are ramping up the pressure for ye to simply take the climate brief you want so badly and prop up the two boys until 2025.
Their arguments go like this: Ireland is in the midst of a crisis, therefore it needs a government. The Greens have the seats to plug the gap, therefore the junior coalition partner must be the Greens. The Greens are driven by the urgency of climate change above all else, therefore they should jump at this chance.
But you haven't. Yet.
But if it makes so much damn sense, then why has this proposal remained in early negotiations, gathering criticism for the Green grassroots, rather than seeing a delighted Eamon Ryan skipping off into the sunset as the Tánaiste, or guaranteed a few spins on the rolling Taoiseach waltzer?
It's simple: because some Greens know that what they want, including the demographics they need to keep onside, is not compatible with five more years of centre-right governance that prioritises profits, banks, big business and economic growth over saving the actual planet.
Long story short, I'm here to warn the Greens that if they go into government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, that's it for them.
Maradkar (that's mine, nobody else use it) made this incompatibility clear in their response to the questions that the Greens have put to them in writing. Their answers, especially those on housing and on carbon emissions reduction, should kill the deal in the water.
FG/FF will not agree to terms that public land only be used for social, affordable and cost-rental housing. They've come this far without giving a damn about the housing crisis and they are not going to start now. If the Greens want to remain clean of this legacy of homelessness and a predatory housing market, they cannot dirty their hands with these guys. And I know that's hard for them, because those Greens just love gardening.
Nor will FG/FF commit to a 7% annual reduction in carbon emissions. Instead, they want to "understand" and "tease out" this target, reminding the Greens that the current plan allows for 3%.
Much to my entertainment, this state of affairs has been framed by the Irish Times as "FF and FG concede many of Green Party’s key demands". Alas, not all the Greens agree.
Green Party Councillor for Cork City Lorna Bogue said it was clear her party should "walk". Saoirse McHugh said that it was "more of the same" from FG/FF.
TD Francis Noel Duffy has been out there retweeting Sinn Féiners, and says "7% is achievable through a circular economy, that will create sustainable jobs in the construction, energy, agriculture and transport sectors. However, this will not be achieved through status quo politics".
Across the board, Greens have all been pointing out that the 7% reduction isn't their demand — it's the demand of the 2019 “Emissions Gap” Report from the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). An Taisce paints the 7% figure as the bare minimum. Catherine Martin TD says: "There's no negotiating the science behind the climate and biodiversity emergency."
But while they won't negotiate the science, they are still negotiating the politics. And they simply shouldn't be.
It's a mean trick to suggest that once in the door, the Greens will be able to shape the agenda by threatening to pull the plug on the coalition agreement.
The same people who are currently chastising the Greens for their apprehension around going into government will be the same people who will criticise them for their apprehension in acquiescing to the demands of Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil, and the same people who will blame them for undermining democracy should they choose to bring down the government.
Since Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are apparently unaware of our obligations under the Paris agreement, (Which probably explains why we've already missed our 2020 targets and are getting fined for it) we've helpfully attached a summary of article 2 below. https://t.co/eJ54QVq0RT pic.twitter.com/5H5EUCtmKX
— Young Greens / Óige Ghlas (@younggreens) April 29, 2020
The Greens need to seize this moment as the opportunity that it is.
Sinn Féin have shown how quickly a party can move from the fringe to the forefront. In just one historically brief election cycle, Sinn Féin reversed a downward trajectory to become Ireland's most popular party, really for doing very little besides zeroing in on housing and embracing the idea of themselves as the anti-Fine Gael.
That will be you next time, Greens! The warmer our Marches and Aprils get, the more droughts we have, people are only going to realise more and more that you guys were right! You picked up 10 seats since November 2019 simply by hanging out in the background and being dead right about the climate.
And the beauty part is, people are about to start freaking out so bad over global warming that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will have to do something about it, and every time they do, you guys can point out how you'd have done it better, or quicker. They've already said they'll stop new gas exploration, imagine how it will look if they go back on that just because you won't give them the majority they want?
Now, you are one of two strong, viable opposition parties, flanked by a broader left movement. If you only stick to your principles, there you will find more support than ever from those who agree with your goals.
Does Eamon Ryan really need to be visited by the ghost of Green Party coalitions past to know sacrificing his role as a strong opponent and leader of the climate cause will bring nothing but disaster for him and his people?
Does he need to be reminded of what happened to the Progressive Democrats (rest in peace)? Or Labour? Or the Greens, who lost all of their seats for propping up a Fianna Fáil government not 10 years ago?
If an Irish party ever wants to truly dethrone the two royal families who've presided over us since birth, it needs to aim for more than simply mitigating their worst decisions.
It's time for the Greens to take a stand.