BY A MAJORITY of 86% to 14% Green Party members voted this evening to join with Fianna Fáil and the PDs in Government. Three or four Independents will also support the re-election of Bartholomew Ahern as Taoiseach. Trevor Sargent resigned as Green Party leader as he had promised to do in such an eventuality. Still he proclaimed himself delighted with the result.
THIS GREEN PARTY who were the most vocal in Ireland against corrupt practices in public office, who rejected the brown envelope tradition, who demanded an end to the US military use of Ireland's civilian Shannon Airport, who appeared to be champions for the conservation of national monuments, who opposed the export of live cattle, who supported Shell to Sea in their fight against Shell and the Irish Government, who said that they would stop Mary Harney’s ‘co-location’ plans to build private hospitals on public land have now accepted power alongside the Party most responsible for corrupt practices including the "Brown Envelope", the party responsible for letting out Shannon airport to George W Bush, the party that is driving a motorway through Tara of the High Kings, now declared one of the world's 100 most endangered monuments, the party that supports Shell, the party that supports and carries out the export of live cattle, and the Party pushing for, and about to implement, co-location of hospitals under the stewardship of the same Mary Harney.
THE DEAL DONE with Fianna Fáil gained only minimum benefits for the Greens.
ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS vigilled outside the Mansion House all afternoon and evening begging delegates not to do this deal. They were joined by Shell to Sea supporters, Tara preservation supporters and others. Among these groups, especially among anti-war activists, there is a sense of helpless outrage not matched since Ireland's Day of Shame, 20 March 2003, when the Fianna Fáil-PD Government granted rights to Bush to use Shannon for the war he had just started in Iraq - all without UN approval. (Unprecedented protests had followed including a "ring around the Dáil" in which the Garda Special Response Unit used heavy-handed tactics in the arrests of hundreds of sit-down peaceful protestors)
GREEN PARTY SUPPORTERS may be pardoned for feeling that the Parliamentary Party and paid-up members have sold out, taken the shilling and let them down.
IT NOW APPEARS VIRTUALLY CERTAIN that Fianna Fáil and Bartholomew Ahern are back in Government for another five years. What was not expected was that it would be the Green Party that would copper-fasten this happening.