Exploratory Talks

Exploratory Talks

Just a quick update after a very productive and very intensive week.

As has been widely reported in the media, the Green Party last week convened a series of in-depth exploratory talks with a number of other parties. To date, we have met with representatives from Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, and will meet in the coming week with Fine Gael and the Social Democrats.

The purpose of these meetings was to run through the various commitments made by each party in their manifestos in the run up to the elections and to identify commonalities, but also to look at where any sticking points might be should be process move forward into talks aimed at government formation.

We designed a multi-strand structure which involved all of our 12 elected TDs, and also brought in officials from NESC to act as rapporteurs and department officials to fact-check and cost any proposals brought to the table. We had initially proposed 6 strands, but this was expanded out to 8 at the request of other parties involved.  The modules were as follows:

  • Climate and Biodiversity Action
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Finance
  • Brexit, the Constitution and Foreign Affairs
  • Childcare and Education
  • Community, Heritage and Rural issues
  • Workers’ Rights and Making Work Pay

For my own part, I have been taking part in the Community, Heritage and Rural Affairs module, along with my colleague Malcolm Noonan (from Kilkenny), the Childcare module, again with Malcolm, but also Cllr. Pauline O’Reilly from Galway, and in the Education strand along with deputy leader Catherine Martin. The engagement in these strands with both SF and FF was broadly positive and very detailed and informed. It has been a very challenging week in that regard, but one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

The structure of these talks have been very unlike any other that have taken place in the aftermath of an Irish General Election. We looked to the experience of some of our European Green colleagues, where multilateral coalitions would be far more common, in designing the modules to be discussed. It was a leap of faith for the other parties to engage in the process, and I want to thank them for doing so. I came away with enhanced respect for my colleagues in other political groups, and I hope the exploratory talks will help form a framework for more intensive engagements in the coming weeks.

We have always been a party that tries to engage positively with others to drive consensus-based decision-making. I think last week gave an insight into the possibilities of such an approach.

I’ll be on the 6 a.m. train tomorrow morning, looking forward to another challenging and hopefully productive week.

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