ALL THROUGHOUT YESTERDAY, the Green Party Comhaontas Glas were not just chatting with Fianna Fáil deputies - they were in serious talks about entering a Coalition with Fianna Fáil. Earlier promises made by Green Party leader Trevor Sargent that he would resign as leader in such an eventuality are now in serious danger of being broken. Immediately before the election, after receiving advice from their counterparts in Germany, the Greens gave notice that they wanted power in Government to implement Green policies. They lost votes and seats by the mixed messages coming from their different candidates thereafter but now that the election is over they appear to be hungry for power in Government.
THE NEWS IS that Fianna Fáil are surprised and co-operative. Having the Greens on board would relieve them of the necessity to bargain with difficult Independents.
FF, the Greens and probably the PDs would provide a handsome 86 votes to elect Bartholomew Ahern as Taoiseach. An Independent or two would be icing on the cake.
TALKS ARE CONFIDENTIAL but rumours that the FF delegates were surprised at the maturity shown by Green delegates reads to me as if the Greens will not be striking a hard bargain.
I'M WONDERING, for instance, if these vexed questions will be addressed with success or quietly forgotten: the use of Shannon airport for US military use, the co-location of hospitals in Tallaght (State land being sold to private owners for a private hospital on the same site where an existing public hospital stands), the desecration of the Tara site for a new motorway, corporate donations (which bolstered the "brown envelope" tradition of payment to politicians for rezoning land, and led to numerous costly Tribunals that have got bogged down for nearly a decade), the live export of cattle, electronic voting - all of which were opposed by the Greens and favoured by Fianna Fáil. Not to mention the high ethical standards demanded by the Greens in their condemnation of standards obtaining at present.
TV AND RADIO COMMENTATORS are appearing smug and "knowing" about the present talks, prophesying further developments based solely on calculations of gross personal gain to deputies. So an editor of the Irish Independent last night commented on RTE's "Week in Politics", in a non-joking practical way, that the post of Ceann Comhairle held perks such as a state car that would entice many deputies.
THE TALKS WITH THE GREENS continue today. Independent Michal Lowry has also announced that Bartholomew has been in touch and wants to talk.
IF THE GREEN TALKS FAIL, then Labour may be waiting for an invite from the Taoiseach. Meanwhile, the Alternative Coalition is still alive and, while it remains alive, it puts pressure on Fianna Fáil to make bigger offers to all who remain unattached - at present that includes everyone.
AND STILL, THE CLOUDS of the Mahon Tribunal hang like a foreboding canopy of dark grey over all the talks, all the bargaining, all the prognostications.