All is not so rosy in the garden for the Green party, If people were not aware of that beforehand, it came to light over the past week when 3 Green Senators, including Clare’s Róisín Garvey, when they placed down a motion of no confidence in their party chair, Dublin Lord Mayor Cllr. Hazel Chu.
Chu defied a decision by the party’s executive, on which she sits, for the Greens not to contest the Seanad by-elections this month. Despite this decision, Chu received nominations from enough Parliamentarians, including fellow Green members and Independents to contest the election is violation of the party decision. The argument for the no confidence motion appearing to be that a party chair cannot be the ultimate arbitrator in setting the rules if she herself cannot obey them.
However, this latest squabble seems like the latest twist in the internal divisions with the Greens that have seen apparent Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin, the party leader and deputy leader, factions grow more bitter and hostile towards one another. The Ryan wing would be more traditionalist and centrist in their approach. The Martin wing would be more militant and left wing in theirs. The decision to enter Government after phenomenal results in the 2019 and 2020 elections, under Ryan’s leadership, has seen bitter rivalries form from the wing of the party that was opposed to coalition and some resentment from those in favour.
In fact, the break from the Greens of many hard left members of the Greens in the wake of the vote and subsequently has garnered much attention. But even a leadership election, in which Ryan narrowly saw off a challenge from Martin, has not quelled tensions. If anything, the narrow margin has seen to make them even more prevalent.
The entire affair has completely overshadowed what was supposed to be a great week for the Greens in which they secured an amended Climate Action Bill that will transform Ireland’s approach to tackling green house gas emissions, biodiversity and sustainability. This bill gives legal basis to the emissions targets, ensures the climate impact of all budgetary measures are fully factored in in future and that Ireland will cut 51% of emissions by 2030 and become net carbon neutral by 2050. The bill was widely welcomed by all within the Greens and was a huge achievement for the party as a key cornerstone of their election manifesto has now been green lite by Government. Nevertheless, the political headlines after the announcement revolved around Chu and her challenge for a seat on the Seanad Industrial and Commercial panel, in which FF’s Gerry Horkan is running in an electoral pact with their coalition partners that will see Limerick FG’s Maria Byrne contest for the vacant seat on the Agricultural panel.
The bill has also been welcomed as a massive positive step for the environment by many NGO’s and lobby groups and will see Ireland transformed from a climate laggard over the past decade into a climate leader in Europe. That said, those same hard left former Greens are not happy. So much so that, according to leaked documents, they’re forming their own party, the Left Greens. Amongst their key policies would appear to be a large reduction in the national herd, a targeted shrinking of the economy, and the shutting of airports, including Shannon, with only Dublin airport to remain operational and only for “essential” flights. Words like, growth, progress and prosperity being labelled as dirty words in their eyes. I can’t see these policies gaining much support in the likes of the Banner county any time soon.
So which the rest of the country gets on with living with Covid as we watch for announcements from Government regarding the easing of restrictions over the month of April, the Greens, like their coalitions partners FF, appear to be navel gazing as they struggle with low single digit poll numbers. One would have to say that, from the outside looking in, appearing as two separate parties distracted with infighting is a poor image and focusing on highlighting the great environmental and social justice work achieved within the first year of the coalition will serve them much better. Alas, most parties never cop on to this fact until it’s too late. At least their environmental credentials appear to be rubbing off on FF and FG. That may end up being the Green party’s legacy in Government if nothing else.