08 October, 2009

Eleventh Hour

It's late, and I'm tired.

It's been a tough year for the Country, for the Government and for the Green Party.

This week has been one of the most difficult I've faced in my 27 years in the Party. If we don't conclude talks tomorrow morning with Fianna Fáil on transforming the Programme for Government we walk.

I was on Late Date on RTE Radio One earlier this evening saying all of this. It was curiously cathartic to talk about how I felt and outline where things are at. Our team -Mary White TD, Minister Eamon Ryan and Senator Dan Boyle, have had over forty hours of talks over the last eight days with Ministers Dermot Ahern, Mary Hanafin and Noel Dempsey. I don't know if we can reach agreement. From the start we've been emphasising jobs, political reform and eduction as being key areas where we need to transform this government. There's been progress, but the clock is ticking.

Our membership have called a special convention this Saturday in the RDS in Dublin to decide whether or not we stay in government, and whether or not to support the NAMA legislation. We require a two-thirds majority to stay in government. A motion to vote down NAMA and end our participation in government would also require a two thirds vote. The bar is set high to stay. This will be the fifth time this year that members have met to discuss crucial issues for the Party.

The strains and stress take their toll. At a personal level its becoming increasingly difficult to manage the huge demands that are being made on all of us. There's a balance that has to be struck between family life, responsibilities to the constituency, to the Green Party, and to Government. You can never get it all right, but between the normal demands of a Dáil constituency, the responsibilities to attendance and participation in Dáil committees and votes, and the concerns of the Party it can be a mountain to climb. Oh, and I left out the work life-balance part.

I'm trying to be fairly philosophical about it all, but it's not easy. I really believe that green ideas are crucial to getting us through the current economic and environmental challenges. We've got to move Ireland from the boom-bust buildings and big cars fixation into an Ireland that's better planned with a more diversified economy. It'll involve green jobs - in the digital economy, agriculture, renewable energy, sustainable construction and smarter travel. It will be based on confidence in the political system, investment in education and proper planning. There has to be a move to resource taxes, and away from taxes on labour. I believe the Green Party is best placed to help guide, lead and transform politics through the tough decisions that lie ahead for several years to come.

I met someone from the Labour Party today. She talked about how necessary it is to have Green Party as a force in Irish politics, to tackle energy and climate change issues. I also bumped into a Fianna Fáil back-bencher who spoke in desperation about the need to be relieved from the necessity of almost daily funeral attendances of constituents to allow him to concentrate on policy and legislation. The political system requires systemic reforms.

There's a yearning for so many of the ideas that the Green Party brings to the table, whether it be on environment challenges, local government reform, or matters as simple as Safe Routes to School. Its a tough, tough time to be in Government. The John O'Donoghue issue was the straw that almost broke the camel's back for the Greens. I'm hoping that it will act as a catalyst for all of us to reform, and transform the politics of business as usual.

Politics is never easy. I remember having intense debates and rows twenty-five years ago about whether the Greens should be a campaigning NGO or actually contest elections. We chose the latter, and entered a world that is rarely black or white, and that has many shades of grey. Looking back, I think that was the right choice.

I've been on the phone a lot in the past few days talking with Party members. I'm telling them that if we do get a deal that transforms the Programme for Government, then we'll put it to our members on Saturday and ask them for supoport. I'm saying that the NAMA vote is a tough one, but that we have got changes in the Bill, and there are more to come, and that on balance I believe it is the best option to deal with a banking crisis that was not of our making.

A lot depends on what happens over the next 12, and perhaps 48 hours. I'll try and keep you posted.


topgold said...

Thanks for sharing. Get some sleep.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed by the blatant honesty and emotion in the above blog. We sometimes forget the human side to this. I totally believe that electoral reform is essential in order to move foward.If this can be achieved , it would be huge. If this becomes a breaking point and the government falls , you will have my vote. After a week of this JOD fiasco and then listening to his party colleagues singing his praises and defending him to the hilt. We need serious change. Perhaps term limits for ministers. Introducing a watchdog on tds to ensure ethics.
Good luck

Gavin said...

Ciaran, I respect your views and respect you as a politician. But on this occasion I have to disagree. NAMA, even if amended to the nth degree, is a fraud on the taxpayer. As Joseph Stiglitz said, it is criminal.

It must be stopped, and if it takes a general election to stop it, then so be it.


Je suis pas le Rosbif. Je suis le RosSpud! said...

"We require a two-thirds majority to stay in government"

- A two-thirds majority needed to preserve the status-quo? Bizarre, no?

Mike Newham said...

Good luck Ciaran with your deliberations. I also need some fortune in my company too..
We run a CarSharing operation in Cork City that the council and UCC are quite happy with (www.GoCar.ie).
Trying to expand to Dublin and begin to make a 'living wage' is not so easy.
Public/Civil servants who get excessive milage rates seem to be the 'spanner' in our plans.
The State could save so much if it switched to CarSharing; but the culture and fondness for privatly owned transport is so endemic.
I look forward to the day when our citizens choose 'smart' transport of whatever type over debt-based private transport.
Mike N.

Stephen said...

Please, please pull out of government! Fianna Fail needs a good long spell in opposition and the greens are the only ones in a position to do that.

Steven Byrne said...

Appreciate how tough things are for you guys right now with FF trying to wear you down with their experience and bovine complacency. Please get as much as you can but do not on any account bring down the government. You could be responsible for throwing the country into economic turmoil and possibly the hands of the IMF and their seriously right wing economic policies. The Irish electorate never reward the sort principled behaviour you might cite for leaving and the Greens will be lost in the fray if you cause an election.

Tom said...


I'll be blunt. Serve your country and leave Government.

To be in Government with FF when it is clear they will do whatever they want regardless of their coalition partner and to prop up NAMA would be political negligence.

Not trying to have a dig, just giving you my honest view.

By the way, on the subject demands, it staggers me that John Gormley has not sought the position of Tánaiste.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Green Party member, but due to complications cannot make the meeting tomorrow. Use this moment to try get the maximum leverage out of our six Dáil votes, if we can make real gains towards sustainability even at the cost of the party in future elections, then do it. If FF don't offer anything worthwhile then throw them to the wolves. NAMA is far from ideal and far from the ideals of the Green Party, but at this late stage some form of it will be what is passed. Make sure that the state is not crippled and those who messed up get to walk away with the money. And when all this is done, make sure you get a good night's sleep, you guys deserve it!

Mark said...

Politics is about the art of the possible. The Green Party has reached a crossroads. We have the potential to use this unique opportunity to assert our vision and policies to develop a national recovery based on development of green business opportunities. As difficult as it is, we also have a unique opportunity to put in place much needed political reform to restore public credibility in the body politic. We can also drive for our vision of a more equal society. Or we could decide not to use this opportunity for transformation and call an early election....and face political wilderness for 5 years.

Malbekh said...

Hey Ciaran,

Just to give you a perspective. I've been voting Green for the last 24 years - Roger Garland and all that. I regret to say that the last 1st preference I gave to Eamon Ryan was and will be the last vote I give the Greens as long as you stay in power with FF.

Even if you vote through the PfG and GAN fail to vote down NAMA, the likelihood is that the government will fall due to FF/Ind backbenchers, some scandal even John Gormley can't abide, or by a winter of discontent.

All the while the Greens get tainted by the drip, drip of corruption, bribery and cheating from their senior party.

All junior parties get destroyed in the end in FF coalitions, and the Greens will be another chapter and verse in that saga.

Green policies are laudable, and one can argue that as you have FF over a barrel, now is the best opportunity to get the concessions needed.

I just don't think the moral cost of staying in government with the party that brought about the devastation of this State, is worth it.

If the government falls after you agree the PfG you will be left with the worst of both worlds and 10 years in the wilderness.

Anonymous said...

Please pull out and take these chancers in Fianna Fail down. The country will respect you for it and you'll have some chance of recovering next time around. The other way you'll melt down like the PD's did because you are now guilty by association.

If you are going to stay in, at least insist on Universal healthcare for all. The current situation is a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

@Stephen: why would Ciaran and co. cut off their noses to spite the face of FF? I was not in favour of the GP going in with FF but the bigger party in opposition can often times be as dangerous as being in power. Let the dance continue until the people force an election we so badly need.

Stephen Douglas said...

Good luck over the next few days Ciáran.

Anonymous said...

I voted for the Green party at one stage. I had hopes that a breath of fresh air would be introduced to a tired 2/3 party system. What we got was just more of the same old ways, scams and tricks.

If Fianna Fail survive and the Greens stay in with them, they will continued to be tainted with the legacy of the FF mob that will take generations to shake off - if ever!

Do the country a favour, seriously listen to the people - and give your organisation a saving grace. Find some independent dignity and stop just been seen as Fianna Fails lapdog. Grab some creditability back and finally be seen with your pulling out, as a party with personal dignity and backbone. You will be remembered more for it than you think!

At the next election - whenever it comes - ye will either be the hangers-on who hung on and waited and waited, eventually with FF getting a slow dragged death - OR ye will be The Greens which stood up and Said "ENOUGH!!!" and re-claimed some dignity and even some votes!

Enough is enough. We need new fresh government. We have gotten stale and complacent.



Anonymous said...

If we don't conclude talks tomorrow morning with Fianna Fáil on transforming the Programme for Government we walk.

Why have you not walked as it is now afternoon. As usual all talk - no walk!!!

Gavin said...

Agree 100% with Mark's comments. We are at a watershed moment in Irish politics and the Greens are ideally placed to deliver real change for the good of all. I've always been a Green voter and am deeply proud of the way the party has conducted itself in government. Thank god a party with actual principles is there to keep FF on a leash.
Ciaran, thanks to you and your colleagues for your efforts. This is genuine public service and will be remembered as such when we look back on this period in future years.

Anonymous said...


I would generally be a FF supporter and I know your open minded enough not to count that against me.

I actually concur with a previous comment - john Gromley would be a great tanaiste, far better than the current one!!!

On NAMA, I firmly believe it is the best of a bad bunch in terms of options to sort out this crisis. If you can secure a high levy for the banks if a loss is made, fair play.

I would like to see FF in opposition in the near future but certainly not this side of christmas as I think uncertainty before then is the last thing this country needs.

Anonymous said...

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Cowen's attitude is "do it my way or walk the plank". He has absolutely no leadership qualities whatsoever as is evident from his "burying is head in the sand" since being elected as Taoiseach of Ireland.

Be good men and put your ideals before your careers

Anonymous said...

Please pull out and remove the cancer that is Fianna Fail from government. There is no way I can vote for a Green Party that keep this by-word for incompetence in governance in power.

Anonymous said...

I thought you're walking out at lunch Cuffee, what happened?

Stiofán said...

Ciarán, its clearly past lunch time now, and we have seen no Green ministers resign.
Clearly a political bluff.
And once again a lie from the political elite in Ireland.
I dont think you can afford something like this now that DLR is a 4 seater.
Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Ok it's after lunchtime and you havn't walked So maybe this government is over. I hope so. It is destroying the Greens, they have become contaminated. How can the Greens move forward and ignore the wisdom of people like Richard Douthwaite, a true Green. Nama in any form is massive transfer of wealth(theft) no matter how its spun. It is pro institution and is anti-human. Please pull the plug for all our sakes.

Anonymous said...

Do not let Nama happen. Fianna Fail are hoodwinking and this has to be stopped. Let's take a deep breadth and get this as right as we can. They are reverting to type and please do not fall for what they have in mind.
This government is going to fall in the next few months. Do not leave Nama as partg of your legacy.

Michael Hanley said...

I like the photo at the top of this post, Ciaran; very apt.

Is your party willing to take the "road less travelled?"

I'm not a supporter of your party, and frankly I find some of your 'greener' members' views what I shall kindly call unrealistically Utopian (rather than saying "bordering on excessive and irrational zealotry" for example).

Nevertheless, on the whole your party seems to consist of people who genuinely feel that they have a commitment to providing a better world.

In this context, it must be especially frustrating to find yourselves enmeshed (in citizens' minds) with a group of politically-institutionalised incompetents, many of whom represent that (happily dying) generation of gombeen-men (and women) who glory in their ignorance, their anti-intellectualism, their cronyism, their egregiousness, and who represent the worst of the human spirit.

Sadly, I do not think that you as a party will be thanked for whatever policies for implementation you manage to negotiate with the largest party in the Dáil, rather people will interpret your party's resolution as maintaining the most unpopular government in the history of our benighted land. I would suggest that a more beneficial road (let's keep on-metaphor) for your members to take would be to dissolve your unhappy political alliance, disengage from a party of the past, and look to a future where you will at least have the respect of Irish citizens and the potential to return to government sooner rather than later.

Best of luck undertaking whatever course you decide.

Michael Hanley

Anonymous said...


Good post.

Tomorrow your party must decide whether you would tolerate the actions of the FF party if committed by Green party TDs or members.

Clearly you would not as you as a party have integrity.

Now that integrity must be applied.

People will vote greens again but not if you fall with them. Time to push first.

Good luck with what is a critical choice.

Catherine said...

That observation about the FF backbencher who has to spend all his time attending funerals in his constituency sums up what is wrong with the electoral system in this country - parish pump politics. Most TDs are in thrall to their constituencies and all the vested interests therein. They are bogged down dealing with minor local issues that by rights should be the responsibility of local government. The election posters reflect this lack of sophistication. It's all beaming mug shots so that the locals will remember someone who did them a favour (or attended their father's funeral) and vote for them. Actual policies or issues of national importance don't get a look in. There should be fewer TDs and they should concentrate on legislation, not potholes in the roads.

Anonymous said...

It's now past lunchtime and you haven't walked.

Don't you realise that if you and the rest of the Green TDs don't walk now you are all screwed and so is the country.

Once you agree the PFG, you are screwed. Even if the Green convention tomorrow votes down the PFG, that won't save you.

The 6 Green TDs need to show they have metal.

Pull out now and live to fight your policies another day.

Anonymous said...

now that Lisbon has been passed, the biggest issues are the economy and nama. The notion of nama is disgusting, we have thousands of unemployed and needy... we are all going to be paying hugely for the greed of a few at the expense of all! Im hoping for either massive concessions by ff on nama or that the green party walk! what is the green position on reducing the Public Service salary?

Anonymous said...

nama and destruction it will cause is far bigger than any one individual or party!

Anonymous said...

I see you have not got the balls to post my earlier comment at lunch time.

Exert from Ciaran Cuffe's blog last night.
"If we don't conclude talks tomorrow morning with Fianna Fáil on transforming the Programme for Government we walk."

It's now lunchtime and they are still talking.

Typical Green's


9 hours later and the talking has stopped, you have achieved your program, who are you trying to kid???? Oh yes your own party members!!!

Anonymous said...

You people are the scum of the earth, propping up FF in power. Don't think for a moment that this will save your party, we are waiting for the opportunity to punish the parties to sustaining FF in power. Be it next month or 2012, you will be punished, and it will be deserved. Principles my ass, you;re enjoying the mercs.

John said...

If you don't walk I promise you the people will not vote for your party for the next 20 years.

The people that were interested in the green party to begin with are people with integrity, propping up fianna fail shows the lack of character your party currently has.

My advice to you if you really care for your party and this country is that later today you give a televised speech declaring that you are pulling out and tell the country exactly why.

You wont be seen as a party pulling out in hard times, you will be seen as one protecting the people.

This would be a great time to detach yourselves from the fianna fail umbrella and educate the country of your positive policies and the great need for real political change which is not possible with fianna fail in the way.

If you stick it out your party is as good as dead in 2012 and the important policies you believe in will die with it.

People want Fianna Fail out, you are the only way we can get them out. The people will respect you for speaking out against a travesty of a party.

How do you honestly think you will be trusted if you keep them in? Or do you think the people will forget this come election?

Anonymous said...

TRAITORS,you have no right denying the people their voice,so you lot can have your pensions and power!i hope the greens are wiped out,when we get our chance to vote.you are feeding the junkies fix for power!

Anonymous said...

TRAITORS,make sure you qualify for your pensions before you leave.you are not fit too call yourself irish democrats,you failed the electorate!move too iran,china you will love politics there.dont insult us with your ff dribble,we are not stupid.prepare to be wiped out,be it now or 2012.you are finished as a party,marry ff now you are both finished!disgusting!

Ciaran Daly said...

I read with dismay the 'deal' agreed last night, are you guys for real? Do you not realise there is an economic crisis on? Fiddling while Rome burns is really not the answer.

The tax burden is going to go through the roof to pay for all this irresponsible spending and borrowing and for what...

if you were really interested in education, you'd cut back teachers salaries to German levels and get the extra spending that way...instead we'll get hard working people on low incomes crucified to pay for rich kids to go to college...

but don't worry, it doesn't add up, your taxing nthe economy to extinction will create a slum state that will collapse on itself...this will restore responsible government

BTW, green jobs or jobs for the boys...every taxpayer will have to pay for these so-called jobs. Colm McCarthy pointed out the wishful thinking behind this nonsense in yesterday's Irish Times.

Get out while you still can even if it means losing your seat. The hard working people of this country will restore growth.

Anonymous said...

I wish you and your party good luck with the PFG - I see no reason to be confident that this Govt can deliver. I am never voting green again. having worked for the last 25 years plus, I now see my income shrinking, my working days getting longer and my kids deprived of my time even more. I never thought it would come to a point where all that we have strived for would be so precarious. We have lived within our means for the past 10 years unlike some and here we are turning over every penny twice! We might as well have borrowed to the hilt and taken a chance. The Irish don't seem to mind a bit of corruption as long as they are not found out and when they are they still get to walk away with their financial security intact. I've had it. I remember asking Barry Andrews once why he doesn't do something about the fact that many civil servants get free city centre parking in car parks that are rented by the State [with tax payer's money] at great expense and without having to pay a BIK and he replied that if he did he wouldn't be very popular! Gosh and there was me not realising that politics is a popularity contest! You need not come knocking on my door next time round - not that any one does, the onyl sighting of any of the local TDs is at the DART station in the run up to the election - lenty of time for the meaningful chat then as I dash for the DART to do an honest day's work for what used to be an honest day's pay!

Anonymous said...


I commented earlier at 09 October, 2009 17:00.

Have the Greens done a Michael McDowell - threatening to pull out but never doing so no matter what occurs and all in exchange for promises never kept or delivered on.

I think you have only fooled yourselves into thinking you are radical.

Fianna Fail have done the Greens over a second time but you think you did them.

I cannot begin to express the depth of disappointment I feel. I used transfer high to greens, my first going elsewhere.

Will paltry promises win my or other votes back to the greens.

I believe the Greens have sealed their fate today. A sad day.

Anonymous said...

Never again will I even consider giving a Green a preference while the current "leadership" is involved - your party has been, just like all those other powers you proclaim yourselves to be morally superior to - corrupted by power. Studies and working groups are all that have been achieved, and you have given a veto on national policy to the most mollycoddled workforce of all, our teachers. Shame on you, for inflicting up to three more years of FF on the country. Shame on you.

Tom said...

So let me see if I have this right, Ciaran -

I seem to remember talk from Green quarters just a couple of weeks ago that healthcare was a crucial issue for the Greens - specifically with regard to a single tier health system - looks abandoned to me.

The commitment to recruit 500 extra teachers over the next three years is great, but it still falls well short of the promise by the Greens to reverse the education cuts imposed over the last year or so.

The one thing that strikes me is that where new items are included in the Revised Programme they are really vague and without any specific timeframe. Fianna Fail has succeeded in diverting most of what they regarded as difficult issues into reviews or studies. Indeed the fact that the term 'review' is used 41 times in 43 pages sums up this document!!!!

Promises to ban fur farming and stag hunting are certainly worthy, but will be little consolation those who face cuts in the social welfare payments. Mary Hanafin has made it clear that social welfare cuts are coming in the December budget, but this shocking prospect does not even appear to have been on the Green Party agenda.

You'll all stumble on for a while longer, but when the end comes, you will all lose your seats and your party will be destroyed.

This country needs a new government with a new mandate - by that I mean a government elected by a recession-hit electorate, not a government elected during the tail end of an economic boom.

The failure of teh Green Party to walk out on FF is a defining moment in Irish history - not because of any particular Green Party policy or individual, but because the Green Party are propping up a political party that is bereft of ideas or idealogy.

For shame, Ciaran, for shame.

The Galway Tent said...

Net Present Value For Dummies - By Limerick Escapee & Language Teecher.

NPV of NAMA to Green Party Leaders: Zero.

NPV of NAMA to Taxpayers: €38 billion in lost interest
(assuming 'break-even' from forced house-price-inflation causing homelessness).

NPV of Mr Gormley's Pension - Oct 2009: Not bad.
Escape from Ringsend's lousy bicycle paths and incinerator. Free at last.

NPV of Mr Gormley's Pension - Oct 2012: Excellent.
Retirement in Bali. Lucrative directorships in the Green Friends-of-EPA Industry.


Paul Moloney said...

"She talked about how necessary it is to have Green Party as a force in Irish politics, to tackle energy and climate change issues."

After selling out their principles and putting the next generation of Irish people into financial bondage to save Fianna Fail's developer buddies, I guess the only thing that the Green Party have left now is emotional blackmail ("Oh my god, like vote for us or the whales die!").


Anonymous said...

NAMA is just more of trying to resurrect the cult of "boom-bust buildings and big cars". Your party had a historic opportunity, but chose to sell out the entire country and the next generation for a short term stay in office. At the next general election your party will get no forgiveness.

Your banking scheme has shown no mercy to my generation. Why should we show any to you?