Green party in government in Ireland - The Party Political Environment: Beyond Saving


So, for the first time in the history of the Irish state the Green Party are in government. Does this mean we will see any real, radical change? Can the Greens stay true to their Manifesto promises?

Never have we witnessed an election like the one just passed in the states history. Essentially, we witnessed a public refurendum on two possible coalitions. In the end we were given a government unique in the states history, in that for the first time it features the Green Party.

 But what does this mean? We witnessed negotiations stop, start and stop again between Fianna Fail and the Green Party, so surely they came out with a good deal? After 10 days at the negotiation table though it looks like they came out with very little.

With the Greens in Government, how different will life in Ireland be? They have, they insist, won a number of positions and concessions. Their list of objectives and aims though, is for the most part aspirational.

Do the Greens feel that now they find themselves sitting at the table with the PDs and Fianna Fail, that their policies will suddenly be implemented? On my own doorstep, a promise was made to me that the Greens, when in Government, would use all their power to "send Shell to sea!" That is no small promise to make. Ireland is no different from countless other capitalist states, in that the economy will always take priority over the enviroment. Were this not the case, we'd never need to send Shell to Sea at all.

It is incredible to witness political parties compromise policies for power. The environmental destruction we are witnessing at Tara and the free-distribution of our national resources in Mayo are things we are told the Greens are now powerless to stop. Shannon Airport is another issue we were told was a key issue by the Greens. We on the left seen the Greens march and speak out publicly against Irish complacency in the continued use of Shannon Airport by U.S Forces in their war on Iraq, and now their silence says so much more.

It's quite clear that the Greens core base have been sold down the road already. Even some policies which we are told remain the same, can not be implemented - they simply don't hold the power to do so. The Greens have been used by Bertie, in that they now simply "make up the numbers" for his third term in office.

The Greens own election manifesto, now makes for fascinating reading material. It proclaims that the Greens 'will' among other things:

"*end the use of Shannon Airport by US military forces involved in the war in Iraq;
*insist that any aircraft suspected of involvement in illegal movements of prisoners must be searched.
*reverse the Fianna Fáil / Labour deal which excused the Taoiseach from answering questions in the Dáil on Thursdays;
*draw up a charter for placing human rights at the centre of policing in Ireland."

It is quickly becoming clear the Green Party are quite in line with other political parties on this island, in that they are heavy on promises, policies and rhetoric - but lacking on delivery. Can you picture an accountable police force in this state? Most of us couldn't, not with the smell of scandal over recent deaths in Garda custody, and the bruises from Rossport still healing. Still, the Green Party could. Can you picture a truly neutral Ireland? I find it difficult, when I witness the Drumcondra Boyo exchange shamrock bowls with George W. Bush. Still, again the Green Party could.

Should the crowds that gathered outside the Mansion House protesting have been surprised? What seperated them from the Greens themselves? They were all commited to their causes, and that is what seperates political activists from political parties. The feelings of betrayal are clear, they will be for a long time. The feelings of surprise will quickly vanish, when the suits settle into their Dail seats.

Political parties often lose their principles, but never their thirst for power. Everything from neutrality to corporation tax (to look across the room.... ) can be discarded in that search. This is no longer surprising to those of us on the left, all that is surprising is the fact the Irish public continue to place their faith in such politicians.

If we have an "Inconvenient Truth" to admit to, the root-cause of it is just as inconvenient for those in power. Capitalism is what destroys the environment. The greed of corporations, and their disregard for the welfare of others. Can a society be capitalist and environmentalist? We all know the answer.

I know countless people who tell me now that they voted green not for a few junior ministers, but for real change in Irish politics. They should not be surprised by the outcome of this election. The real change, the real action, has never taken place within the walls of Leinster House. All we should learn from recent events is that political action and political parties share nothing in common. The Greens are now complicit in the actions of our government, and it will be most interesting to watch their reactions to 'developments' not just in Mayo, but Shannon and throughout the country.

The party political environment is one we can't save.