Greens call for general election after budget
The Green Party will pull out of government in early January but will support the budget on 7 December. It has called for a general election to be held in the second half of January. The party made the announcement at a press briefing in Government Buildings just before noon today. Independent TDs Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae supported the call for a general election. By Alison Spillane. Additional reporting by Malachy Browne.
"There's a lot of disappointment and a lot of frustration about the way things have panned out", Green Party Senator Dan Boyle said today. He said he believed the Irish people needed to have their say.
According to Green TD Paul Gogarty, the decision was made after a series of meetings on Saturday. On Twitter this morning, Gogarty said the party could now go on record "non-cryptically" about an agreement reached over the weekend.
However, it is understood that party leader John Gormley did not inform the Taoiseach about the decision to dissolve the coalition until this morning. Former party leader, Trevor Sargent arrived at government buildings before the press conference yesterday evening, when it is likely the decision by the Green Party was taken.
The Greens will stay in government for the next two months in order to support the 2011 Budget, produce a "credible" four-year plan, and ensure that funding is secured from the IMF and the EU.
A statement from the party said: "The past week has been a traumatic one for the Irish electorate. People feel misled and betrayed. We have always said that our involvement in government would only continue as long as it was for the benefit of the Irish people. Leaving the country without a government while these matters are unresolved would be very damaging and would breach our duty of care".
Dan Boyle posted the following message his Facebook profile: "We are doing I believe the right thing. We've have thought long and hard about what to and the likely consequences. We believe it's in the interests of the country and the people."
Labour's Pat Rabitte has described the decision as a "death bed conversion" saying the Greens are probably trying "to save their own skins".
With an approval rating of 3% in the latest Sunday Business Post-Red C poll, the Green Party will face near-obliteration in the general election having been decimated in the 2009 local elections when just two councillors were elected. The Green Party entered government with Fianna Fail in 2007 with John Gormley saying that he "cannot bear the thought of another five years in Opposition".
The full text of the Green Party statement
The past week has been a traumatic one for the Irish electorate. People feel misled and betrayed.
The Green Party believes three things must be done in the coming two months to safeguard the future prosperity and independence of the Irish people.
• Producing a credible four-year plan to show we can make our Budgets balance by 2014.
• Delivering a Budget for 2011.
• Securing funding support from the EU and IMF which will respect vital Irish interests and restore stability to the Euro area.
We have always said that our involvement in government would only continue as long as it was for the benefit of the Irish people. Leaving the country without a government while these matters are unresolved would be very damaging and would breach our duty of care.
But we have now reached a point where the Irish people need political certainty to take them beyond the coming two months. So, we believe it is time to fix a date for a general election in the second half of January 2011.
We made our decision last Saturday after a long series of meetings.
Since entering government in June 2007, we in the Green Party have worked to fix and reform the economy. It has been difficult. We have taken tough decisions and put the national interest first.
We cannot go back and reverse the property bubble and the reckless banking which we consistently spoke opposed. Nor can we control the market turmoil which has afflicted the Euro area.
We have taken extensive measures to recognise the losses and stabilise our banking system. However, it is now clear we need further measures to give market confidence about our banks and public finances.
We are now discussing ways of restoring stability to the banking system with the support of our European colleagues and the IMF. We have to ensure that the terms of any such support are in the interests of the Irish people and the wider Euro area. The timeframe for achieving a four-year plan, Budget 2011 and a good outcome from IMF/EU talks is very short. These matters must at this stage take priority ahead of everything else.
Despite our difficulties and disappointments, I believe we can get out of this situation. We must all work together to ensure the best outcome for everyone.