Thursday, June 14, 2007
IRISH GREEN PARTY TO SUPPORT DEAL THAT MAY GIVE IT A GOVERNING ROLE
by Eamon Quinn
(The New York Times, Thursday, June 14, 2007, p. A6)
DUBLIN, June 13--The leadership of Ireland's Green Party agreed Wednesday to support a deal with Prime Minister Bertie Ahern that could make it a part of the government for the first time.
The party leaders said Mr. Ahern made concessions on issues like climate change, education and political reform of local government in exchange for entering a coalition with Mr. Ahern's party, Fianna Fail.
But the deal faced obstacles before the expected vote on Thursday in Parliament, including a vote by 1,000 party members requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. Eamon Ryan, one of the party's six members in Parliament, called the deal "a hard sell," and political commentators noted that some party members questioned whether Fianna Fall had made enough concessions.
In national elections held three weeks ago, Fianna Fall, with 78 seats, remained by far the largest party in Parliament but was still left needing the support of smaller parties like the Greens to achieve the majority in the 166-member chamber. Mr. Ahern, who has governed in coalition since 1997, has said that his goal is to establish a "stable government" that could last another five years.
Political analysts sais another major issue for the Green Party was the use of Shannon Airport in southwest Ireland. The party has opposed the use of Shannon by American troops en route to Iraq and elsewhere, and it contends that the airport has been used by the C.I.A. in taking people it seizes either to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or to secret prisons elsewhere.
Green Party leaders said they had been told Wednesday that there would be "specialized training" for the Irish police to monitor possible instances of stopovers in connection with the seizures.
"The Green Party had always been against the use of Shannon and wanted U.S. troops using Shannon to end altogether," said Sean Donnelly, a pollster and political analyst. "But there was no way that Fianna Fall would give in to that. Ireland is pro-American, and there are many American businesses here."
Michael Marsh, professor of political science at Trinity College, Dublin, said the key for Greens would be how much real influence they would bring to bear in the government.
Posted by Jason Nabewaniec