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Green Party (Ireland)

The Green Party (Comhaontas Glas; lit. Green Alliance) is a green political party in Ireland. It was founded as the Ecology Party of Ireland in 1981 by Dublin 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 Parliament, and in 2007 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. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have systems of proportional representation called Single Transferable Vote, which gives smaller parties, such as the Green Party, more opportunity to gain representation.

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 Green Party is the second-largest all-Ireland party, after Sinn Féin.

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 Council 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 the national parliament, the Dáil, when Roger Garland was elected in Dublin South. In the general election of 1997 the party gained a seat when John Gormley won a seat in Dublin South East.

However, it was not until the general election of 2002 when it made a breakthrough, getting 6 Teachta Dála (TDs) (Members of Parliament) 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 it had won in 1994 and retained in 1999. 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, a big breakthrough at local level for a small party. Its new councillors include Niall Ó Brolcháin, elected in Galway City, and J. J. Power, elected in Naas, which, when coupled with other elected representatives in Cork, Donegal, Louth, Wicklow, Clare, Carlow and Kilkenny, represents a breakout from its perceived traditional Dublin base.

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 Fail. 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 June 12th membership meeting to approve the agreement, Sargent announced his resignation as leader in fulfillment of his campaign promise.

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

Deputy Leader

The Green Party's deputy Leader is Mary White. She won a seat for the Green Party in the May 2007 General Election, following closely lost previous efforts.

Current

The Green Party currently have six TDs and two Senators. They are party leader John Gormley, deputy leader Mary White, Trevor Sargent (who resigned as leader when the Green Party agreed to coalition with Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats), Eamon Ryan, Ciarán Cuffe and Paul Gogarty. Party Chairman Dan Boyle and Deirdre de Burca were nominated by the Taoiseach to Seanad Éireann after the formation of the Fianna Fáil–Green Party government in 2007.

The Green Party has strong links with its counterpart in Northern Ireland, 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. Although it is a member of the European Federation of Green Parties, the Irish Green Party has adopted a notably more eurosceptic stance than is usually articulated by the Federation.

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. In 2004 it became associated with the Federation of Young European Greens.

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 March 21th 2008, its 15 members are:

  • John Gormley - Party Leader
  • Mary White - Party Deputy Leader
  • Dan Boyle - Party Chairman
  • Martin Nolan - Party Treasurer
  • Andrew Murphy - Later elected Deputy National Coordinator
  • Barra Roantree
  • Michael Pidgeon - Young Greens Representative
  • Cllr Caroline Burrell
  • Kelly Andrews - Later elected National Coordinator
  • Cadogan Enright
  • Edel Hackett
  • Tom Kivlehan
  • Patricia Forde-Brennan
  • Stiofan Nutty
  • Patricia McKenna

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. The party targeted fifteen constituencies with the aim of winning at least seven seats. Mary White won a seat for the first time in Carlow-Kilkenny becoming that constituency's first ever female TD. However, Dan Boyle lost his seat in Cork South Central leaving the party with the same number of TDs as before.

Fianna Fáil–Green Party government

In a speech to the Green Party convention on 24 February 2007, the then Chairman John Gormley said: "For let there be no doubt, we want Fianna Fáil and the PDs out of Government. Just after the election, Ciarán Cuffe wrote on his blog: "A deal with Fianna Fáil would be a deal with the devil. We would be spat out after 5 years, and decimated as a Party. On 13 June 2007, Green delegates in the Mansion House, Dublin, voted 441 to 67 (with two spoilt votes) in favour of entering coalition with Fianna Fáil, reaching the required two-thirds majority. In the words of one speaker at the meeting, "almost nothing is better than nothing at all." The following day, the six Green Party TDs voted for the re-election of Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach.

This is the first time in Irish history that the Green Party have entered government, and also the first time an all-island party has been in power in Dublin since the 1920s.

It has two senior ministers John Gormley, Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government and Eamon Ryan, Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources. Trevor Sargent is the junior minister for Minister of State for Food and Horticulture.

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 Tara and (to a lesser extent) the campaign to end United States military use of Shannon airport. Since the Green Party entered government, there has been no change in government policy on these issues, which means Eamon Ryan now oversees the Corrib gas project he once so vehemently opposed (the Green Party made an inquiry into the irregularities surrounding the project a precondition of government at their last annual conference, but changed their stance during post-election negotiations with Fianna Fáil).

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, and a new scale of Vehicle Registration Tax based on carbon emissions.

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 the Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, the party's leadership failed to secure a two-thirds majority required to make support for the referendum official party policy. The result of the vote was 63% in favour. As a result, the Green Party itself did not participate in the referendum debate, although individual members were free to be involved in whatever side they chose.

References

External links

See also

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