THE public perception that the Green Party may leave Government over controversial proposals to improve liquidity in the Irish economy through the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) has been flatly contradicted by its solitary Clare councillor, Brian Meaney.
Rank-and-file Green Party members have warned that the minority party in the Coalition will pull out of Government if its concerns aren’t addressed over the coming weeks.
Speaking ahead of a meeting of the Green Party’s parliamentary party this Friday and Saturday, the Ennis Town councillor said the Green Party was prepared to implement change regardless of the political consequences or its popularity ratings in the opinion polls. The new NAMA legislation will be discussed at a special Green Party Convention on October 10.
Councillor Meaney claimed that a question mark remained over Fianna Fáil’s willingness to accept the change that was necessary and the unknown political consequences.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen confirmed that the NAMA legislation has been signed off on by the Cabinet on Wednesday. The Bill will be published later this week and the law will be brought into the Dáil next week.
Deputy Cowen made the comments at the Institute of Public Administration conference, where he was greeted by a group of chanting anti-NAMA protestors.
Despite concerns being expressed about the scale of bad borrowing to be taken off banks, Deputy Timmy Dooley expressed confidence NAMA would be supported by the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.
Acknowledging that there were people in Fianna Fáil and the Green Party with diametricallly opposing views, Deputy Dooley stressed that the present Coalition had worked well because of the ability of the major party to reach a compromise.
“Obviously, there is a risk involved but if we don’t get money back into the banks, the economy will wither and jobs will continue to be lost in small and medium sized enterprises who are finding it hard to get credit,” he said.
Councillor Meaney claimed that the Green Party was fortunate to be in Government to demand the measures needed to re-establish a strong vibrant economy.
He said that the redrafting of the proposals on NAMA was only one element of the demands being sought by the Green Party of their Government partner.
“The NAMA legislation only deals with consequences of the Wild West that was, or perhaps still is, the Irish banking sector. This lawless sector was presided over by our senior Government partner and made worse by the Dodge City planning and zoning decisions around the country. We possibly have the opportunity to set it right though I do not conceive the electorate will thank us for it. We should be prepared to take the hard decisions by securing the future of this country. Any party that fails to do so should not be in government.”
Councillor Meaney admitted that, despite the pressure his party was placing on their Government partner, a general election would undermine the country’s ability to tackle the problems it now faced.
“The focus, media and otherwise, should not be on whether the Greens walk from Government but on Fianna Fáil shirking doing what is right and supporting the measures the Greens are prepared to support and once and for all put the Governance of this State on the right track,” he added.