Maybe I’m amazed… or maybe not, as the Glasaigh enter government


The water in Galway has been undrinkable for months. A key issue, one might think, for the Irish Greens. And what do we find today? The Greens going into government with the buggers responsible for this mess. If only Galway mayor Niall Ó Brolcháin had succeeded in winning a seat for the party, this would have been even funnier.

Bertie the modern Machiavelli has reason to feel pleased with himself. The rump Desocrats are staying on board, rather than follow the logic of their position and just dissolve into Fine Gael. Jackie has got some goodies for South Kerry, and now the Greens have voted by 86% to join the Fianna Fáil-led government. I must admit, I thought Pat Rabbitte was being smart with his poker-face routine, but it wouldn’t be the first time he’s outsmarted himself. Besides, he still might get to do the patriotic thing and become Tánaiste if the Greens go flaky.

So what have the Greens got for their trouble? Apart from bums on seats, I mean.

The M3 is going ahead. So too, I assume, will the other roads the government has committed to building.

In health, there will be no rollback of Harneyism – indeed, Harney herself seems likely to stay put. Co-location will be going ahead.

Will the Yanks be told they can’t use Shannon any more? It seems unlikely.

What the Greens do have is a commitment that, at some unspecified point in the future, there will be a carbon tax. Possibly on Green ministers’ Mercs. And it’s something that would probably have come in eventually anyway.

I know the Greens are in a much weaker position numerically, but the outcome of the negotiations doesn’t compare very well to what Groucho got in 1992, where FF kept control of the economy and Labour ministers got to bring in lots of cuddly social reforms. But we shall see.

Another point worth raising is whether the Greens’ supporters will forgive them. I don’t see why not. Actually, coalescing with FF makes a certain amount of sense. Take the Desocrats – they could never cut a deal with the Blueshirts for the simple arithmetical reason that both parties were pitching for the same vote. If one did well, the other would do badly. Who votes for the Greens? Nice, middle-class people with nice liberal opinions, mostly in Greater Dublin. The same people who voted FG in Sir Garret’s day and have turned to Labour in more recent years. This is a big reason why Trevor was clever enough to keep his distance from Mullingar – it’s hard to imagine a coalition whereby Labour and the Greens were constantly trying to cannibalise each other’s base.

This is one of the joys of the PRSTV system, that it throws up these seeming coalitions of opposites, while those closest to you on paper are your most bitter rivals. Hence Clann na Poblachta coalescing in 1948 with a pretty much unreconstructed Fine Gael. Hence Dessie saying that FF, and in particular Charlie, were unfit to be in office, and then putting them back into office. Hence today’s FF-Green-PD combo. And why not a Blueshirt-Provo coalition in five years’ time?

Finally, props to Clever Trevor for actually keeping a promise and resigning the party leadership. Though I suspect he’ll be back by and by.


  1. Idris of Dungiven said,

    June 14, 2007 at 10:37 am

    The bottom line – the Greens have exposed themselves as a silly frivolous party of silly, frivolous people. In five years time they’ll get the McDowell treatment, hopefully.

  2. ejh said,

    June 14, 2007 at 11:20 am

    They do seem to have sold themselves for a very small mess of pottage indeed.

    Now of course it’s true that they didn’t have much leverage in any negotiations but perhaps this tells us that that’s precisely the situation in which there’s no real point in entering government. If you hold the balance of power then you can make serious demands and expect to have part of your programme implemented: if you don’t then what’s the point? (Save keeping out somebody vastly worse, which doesn’t seem to be the situation here.)

    Would it really have been beyond the Greens to say “well, this government isn’t going to do anything that would make it worth our while being part of it – perhaps that’s our fault for getting fewer seats than we have liked to, but either way we can’t see what’s there for us”?

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