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The Green Party ( ; lit. Green Alliance) is a green political party in Irelandmarker. It was founded as the Ecology Party of Ireland in 1981 by Dublinmarker teacher Christopher Fettes. The party became the Green Alliance in 1983 and in 1987 was renamed to its current title.

Green Party candidates have been elected to all levels of government; local, Dáil and European Parliamentmarker, and in 2007 the party gained its first representation in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Northern Ireland party having become a region of the Irish Green Party in the previous year.On 14 June 2007, following negotiations that agreed on a programme for government, the Green Party entered into government with Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats (the latter of which has since disbanded but its two TDs remain part of the government).

History

The party's first electoral outing was when 7 candidates contested the November 1982 general election under the Ecology Party banner, winning 0.2% of the vote. Following a name-change, they contested the 1984 European Parliament elections, with their party founder winning 1.9% in the Dublin constituency. The following year they won their first election when Marcus Counihan was elected to Killarney Urban District Councilmarker during the 1985 Local Elections. The party nationally ran 34 candidates and won 0.6% of the vote. The party continued to struggle until the general election of 1989 when the again renamed party won its first seat in parliament, the Dáil, when Roger Garland was elected in Dublin South. In the 1994 European Parliament election Patricia McKenna topped the poll for the Dublin Constituency and Nuala Ahearne won a seat in Leinster. They retained their seats in 1999. In the general election of 1997 the party gained a seat when John Gormley won a Dáil seat in Dublin South East.At the general election of 2002 that it made a breakthrough, getting 6 Teachtaí Dála (TDs) elected to the Dáil with 4% of the national vote. However, in the election to the European Parliament of June 2004, the party lost both of the European Parliament seats which. In the 2004 local elections at county level it increased its number of councillors from 8 to 18 out of 883 and at town council level its number of councillors increased from 5 to 14 out of 744. However, the vast majority of its seats were lost at the 2009 council elections, including its entire traditional Dublin base, where - with the exception of a Town Council Seat in Balbriggan - it now holds no council seats at all in Dublin and only three County Council seats in total.It has about fifteen hundred members.

Organisation

The National Executive Committee is the organising committee of the party. It comprises the party leader John Gormley, deputy leader Mary White, Chair Dan Boyle, Young Greens representative, Treasurer and ten members elected annually at the party convention.As of 21 March 2008, its 15 members are:John Gormley – Leader, Mary White – Deputy Leader, Dan Boyle – Chairman, Martin Nolan – Treasurer, Elizabeth Davidson – Deputy National Coordinator Barra Roantree – Young Greens, Andrew Byrne, Elizabeth Davidson, Andrew Murphy – National Coordinator, Cadogan Enright, Edel Hackett, Sara Garbett, Phil Kearney, Stiofan Nutty and Karly Greene

Leadership

The party did not have a national leader until 2001. At a special "Leadership Convention" in Kilkenny on 6 October 2001, Trevor Sargent was elected the first official leader of the Green Party. He was re-elected to this position in 2003 and again in 2005.

Sargent resigned the leadership in the wake of the general election to the 30th Dáil. During the campaign, Sargent had promised that he would not lead the party into Government with Fianna Fáil. In the election outcome the party retained 6 Dáil seats , making them the most likely partner for Fianna Fáil. Sargent and the party negotiated a coalition government and at the 12 June membership meeting to approve the agreement, he announced his resignation as leader.

In the subsequent leadership election, John Gormley became the new leader on 17 July 2007, defeating Patricia McKenna by 478 votes to 263.The deputy Leader is Mary White.

Today

The Green Party currently have six TDs and two Senators. Party Chairman Dan Boyle and Déirdre de Búrca were nominated by the Taoiseach to Seanad Éireann after the formation of the Fianna Fáil–PD-Green Party government in 2007.

The Green Party has strong links with its counterpart in Northern Irelandmarker, the Green Party in Northern Ireland, which voted to become a region of the Irish Green Party in 2005 at its Annual Convention, and again in a postal ballot in March 2006. Brian Wilson, formerly a councillor for the Alliance Party, won the Green Party's first seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly in the 2007 election.

The Irish Green Party is a member of the European Green Party. Though it previously held a more eurosceptic stance than is usually articulated by most other green parties in Europe, the decision by two thirds of party members to endorse a Yes vote in the second Lisbon referendum in July 2009 is evidence of an attitude more favourable towards the EU that has been growing within the Party since the second Nice referendum.

The Green Party also has a youth wing, known as Young Greens, which has several hundred members in branches throughout the country. Founded in 2002, it campaigns for protection of the environment, human rights and more funding for education. It is closely associated with youth members of the Green Party in Northern Ireland.

Dáil election 2007

Although the party's share of first preference votes increased by some 22% from 3.84% to 4.69% nationally in the 2007 general election, held on 24 May 2007, the party failed to increase the number of TDs returned. Mary White won a seat for the first time in Carlow-Kilkenny however, Dan Boyle lost his seat in Cork South Central leaving the party with the same number of TDs as before.Those elected were:

The Green Party in Government

The Green Party entered into government with Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats on 14 June 2007 and has two senior ministers John Gormley, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Eamon Ryan, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Trevor Sargent is the junior minister for Minister of State for Food and Horticulture.

The Green Party approached the 2007 General Election on an independent platform, ruling out no coalition partners while expressing its preference for an alternative to the incumbent coalition. The results of the election ruled out the possibility of a Fine Gael/Labour/Green government without support from a combination of the Progressive Democrats, Sinn Féin and various independents (77 seats) leaving it 7 seats short of a majority. Fine Gael ruled out a potential coalition arrangement with Sinn Féin opening the way for Green Party negotiations with Fianna Fáil.

The Negotiations for Government

Before the negotiations began Ciarán Cuffe wrote on his blog that "a deal with Fianna Fáil would be a deal with the devil... and [the Green Party would be] decimated as a Party.". The negotiations were undertaken by Dan Boyle, Donall Geoghegan (the party's general secretary) and the at that time party Chair John Gormley. The Green Party walked out after 6 days in what Donall Geoghegan later said was due to there not being "enough in [the deal] to allow [the Green Party] to continue". The negotiations restarted on the 11th June with a draft programme for government being agreed one day later, which under party rules needed 66% of members to endorse it at a special convention.

On 13 June 2007, Green members in the Mansion Housemarker, Dublin, voted 86% in favour (441 to 67; with 2 spoilt votes) of entering coalition with Fianna Fáil. The following day, the six Green Party TDs voted for the re-election of Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach.

This is the first time the Green Party have entered government in Ireland.

Criticisms

Before their entry into government, the Green Party were vocal supporters of the Shell to Sea movement, the campaign to reroute the M3 motorway away from Taramarker and (to a lesser extent) the campaign to end United States military use of Shannon airportmarker. Since the Green Party entered government, there has been no substantive change in government policy on these issues, which means Eamon Ryan now oversees the Corrib gas project. The Green Party made an inquiry into the irregularities surrounding the project (see Corrib gas controversy) a precondition of government at their last annual conference but changed their stance during post-election negotiations with Fianna Fáil. The County Mayomarker branch of the party still supports moves to move the refinery to an alternative location.

2008 Budget

The 2008 budget, announced on 6 December 2007, did not include a carbon levy on fuels such as petrol, diesel and home heating oil, which the Green Party had sought before the election. A carbon levy is, however, included in the agreed Programme for Government and will be introduced at some stage during the lifetime of this government. The 2008 budget did include a separate carbon budget announced by Gormley, which introduced new energy efficiency tax credit, a ban on incandescent bulbs from January 2009, a tax scheme incentivising commuters' purchases of bicycles and a new scale of Vehicle Registration Tax based on carbon emissions.

The Lisbon Treaty

In 2007, the Green Party launched an internal debate on the party's stance on the Lisbon Treaty. At a special convention on 19 January 2008 to consider whether or not to support what would become the Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, the party voted 63.5% in favour of supporting the Lisbon Treaty fell short of the party's two-third majority requirement for policy issues. As a result, the Green Party did not participate in the referendum debate, although individual members were involved on different sides

Following the Irish Government's negotiation with EU member states of additional legal guarantees and assurances, and the subsequent adoption by Dáil and Seanad Éireann of the Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution Bill (2009), the Green Party held another special convention meeting in Dublin on 18 July 2009 to decide its position on the second Lisbon referendum. At the meeting precisely two thirds of party members present voted to campaign for a Yes in the referendum . This is the first time in the party's history that it campaigned in favour of a European treaty.

Local & European Elections 2009

In the European Elections the party received 1.9% of the vote nationally (a reduction of 2% since 2004) and no candidate was elected.

In the Local Elections the party received 2.3% of the vote nationally (a reduction of 1% since 2004) and 3 candidate were elected to County Councils compared to 18 previously.

References

  1. Structures / About / Home - Green Party / Comhaontas Glas
  2. People / Home - Green Party / Comhaontas Glas
  3. http://electionsireland.org/results/general/30thdail/resultssummary.cfm
  4. Shell to Sea' campaign gets cross-party support BreakingNews.ie, 21 November 2006.
  5. Military use of Shannon not a campaign issue, but now contentious Village, 12 June 2007
  6. Prominent Shell to Sea activist to oversee Corrib project Indymedia.ie, 16 June 2007.
  7. Connaught Telegraph, July 5, 2008


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