26 September 2009

A last word on the Greens and Government (for now)

Yesterday I, like every other Green Party member, received an email from party leader John Gormley updating us all on the Special Party Convention to be held on October 10th to vote on the Party's position on NAMA and a new Program for Government, the agreement with Fianna Fail that outlines the terms of the coalition currently being renegotiated in the wake of the recent local and European elections.

Minister Gormley explicitly stated in this email that if a 2/3 majority of the Party members present at this convention do not vote to accept the revised program for Government, then the Greens will leave Government. Similarly, if a motion to reject NAMA is proposed and then passed by a 2/3 majority, the Greens will also leave Government. With the exception of the original convention that propelled the party into coalition government no meeting in its history has been as important, and the consequences for the nation are even higher than on that June day.

My own feelings on both NAMA and the continued presence of the Green Party in government are well known. I strongly disagree with the proposed structure of NAMA, specifically the paying of above current market rates on toxic assets in the erroneous hope that property values will rise to near bubble levels in the foreseeable future and the taxpayer will get a return on the government's investment. This angers me for two main reasons, firstly it further rewards the property and banking industries for creating this economic meltdown. The scale of donations cataloged recently on thestory.ie clearly show why Fianna Fail is so eager to protect its financial backers in the construction industry, and it sickens me that our money is being used so blatantly to do so. Secondly while the government has no problem in rescuing the perpetrators of this meltdown, there is no sign of any relief for the true victims of the crisis, the thousands of ordinary citizens now left with properties worth 50-60% of their original purchase price, who rather than receiving aid from the government are now faced with the prospect of a Property Tax to add insult to injury. These concerns are supported by leading economists and ordinary citizens alike.

Although I have no truck with the Shinners, their call in the NAMA Dail debate for a Referendum on the subject has merit given the scale of the public investment proposed, and I am proud that the democratic nature of the Green Party allows me a genuine say in the matter, unlike the other 99.99% of the country's population. My own preference would be for full nationalization of any financial institution that accepts a government bail out, that is the only way to ensure proper oversight of how our money is being spent, to ensure proper corporate governance, and to prevent those that got us into this mess from being further rewarded financially for it.

My feelings on the continued presence of the Green Party in Government are even more obvious to anyone with even a passing familiarity with this blog, and do not need to be reiterated here.

While the process of renegotiating the Program for Government is entering its final stages Minister Gormley has asked party members to refrain from public comment or speculation on the specifics of that negotiation, and I am going to heed that call. It is highly unlikely that anything will result from these negotiations that will change my views, or alter my vote on October 10th, but I will attempt to keep both an open mind and a closed mouth between now and then.

Quite a challenge.

As with the recent Convention on the Lisbon Treaty I will be taking extensive notes during the October party meeting, and will publish a post after the results of the voting have been announced, but until then do not take my silence on the issues as disinterest, rather as a last vain hope in the mechanisms of a party that I once strongly believed in.

Besides, there's still Lisbon II to rant about.

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