The Green Party could collapse the deeply unpopular 26-County government unless party members back two key motions at the party’s convention on October 10, it has been confirmed.
In an e-mail to some 2,000 members last Friday, party leader John Gormley warned the party would leave government if a new programme for government was voted down. He also said that, if the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), being set up to purchase bad debts from Irish banks, is rejected by two-thirds of the members, the Greens “can no longer participate in this government”.
The move will increase the pressure on Fianna Fail in its negotiations on a revised programme for coalition government.
But it remains unclear to what extent the Green Party leadership is genuinely prepared to gamble their own status in government on an election which could see a backlash and the party lose all its seats.
The Green Party leadership will only bring a revised deal under the Programme for Government to a special convention if there is confidence the measures will secure the required two-thirds majority, according to senior sources. The government parties are due to exchange documents tomorrow on a revised programme with face-to-face talks starting this week between Fianna Fail and Green Party negotiators.
In a hardening of its stance ahead of negotiations, senior figures say party leader John Gormley must agree a credible package with Fianna Fail that can win support at the party’s convention on October 10.
If a deal is not reached ‘‘the convention will become a rally of members to build up to a general election’’, a source said. The shopping list of demands includes a multimillion euro investment stimulus of between O500 and O700 million in the smart economy and ‘green’ job creation, a cut of 26 Dail deputies from 166 to 140 under a new electoral system, and protections for education in the budget.
Meanwhile, the five Green Party branches opposing the Nama bill and who precipitated the vote on that issue must submit their motions by tomorrow to party headquarters.
The anti-Nama motion is expected to call for a rejection of a premium on properties transferred to Nama from the banks as Irish property values continue to decline. If accepted, it would precipitate a withdrawal from government.
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that no discussion took place around the threat of a legal action by the retiring director general of Fas, Rody Molloy, over his “golden handshake” pension payment.
It had been claimed by Tanaiste Mary Coughlan that the additional payment of 1.1 million Euro was made to encourage Molloy to resign as head of the scandal-hit state body under threat of a legal claim by him.
However, it has since emerged that the payment was agreed without any such threat, and without other ministers being aware of the payment.
Fianna Fail has denied the money was paid to Molloy as “hush money” to prevent unsavoury revelations emerging over wasteful and illegal expenditures in the state training agency.
Over a million Euro vanished from the agency’s accounts last year without return.
Sinn Fein Senator Pearse Doherty said the actions of those involved in the affair are “truly frightening and insulting to the thousands of families and workers struggling to provide their essential daily needs.
“This is a badge of honour for Fianna Fail government cronyism.”
“Where was the Government intervention and support when, for example, thousands of workers here in Donegal, many in Ms Coughlan’s own constituency were let go with little and in some cases no redundancy at all?
“It was in backroom negotiations with Rody Molloy, fluffing up his nest egg and giving him a pat on the back,” blasted Senator Doherty.