13 July 2009

Green Party wobbles over third-level Fees

Ireland's Green Party has denied that it has done a U-turn on the issue of third-level education fees.

The junior partner in the current government coalition responded to an accusation from the Labour Party's education spokesman (and former Minister for Finance) Ruairi Quinn (above left), following the comments the Minister for Communication, Energy & Natural Resources (and Green Party TD) Eamon Ryan (below right) made on the RTÉ programme 'The Week in Politics'.

After a day with various conflicting statements from the Green Party, an official spokesperson at their head office said tonight that they were "still opposed to the return of fees", but that they would "look at the Minister for Education's proposals as outlined in a document for the Cabinet".

In the RTÉ interview Eamon Ryan had indicated his support for the return of third-level fees that would involve a loan scheme for students.
Under this scheme, graduates would pay back a portion of their college fees once their income is above a set limit.

The Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe (left), a staunch and quite old-fashioned Fianna Fáil politician and uncritical supporter of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, is expected to outline several options for third-level education funding shortly.

But whatever he will propose, it means a big step backwards in the national education system.
And if the Green Party is really going to support the proposal, it also means another breach of their promises to the Irish voters.

It is a long time now that the Green Party was a sensible force for change and promoter of many worthwhile alternative policies. They have sold their soul, principles and beliefs for two seats in the cabinet and a junior minister's job, and in only two years they mutated from Fianna Fáil's harshest critics to Fianna Fáil's tame poodles. What a change... and so typically Irish!

A phrase by the great satirist, Dean Jonathan Swift, comes to mind: "Any Irishman will happily sell his mother for a shilling and throw his sister into the bargain for sixpence..."

The Emerald Islander


irishstu said...

The Green Party seems to think that opposing something and voting against it are too entirely different things


Thanks for your comment, irishstu.

Yes, there is a lot of confusion in the Green Party, even among their TDs. But the biggest rift is between the Green TDs and Senators and many of the party's grass-root members.

I used to support the Green Party - until 2007 - and thought like so many others that they are really offering an alternative to the 'established' system of Irish politics.
And, to be fair, they did that for many years.
But then the temptation of power changed the whole party. And - as Lord Acton put it so well - "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

It was also a master-stroke of Machiavellian strategy by Bertie Ahern, who brought his strongest critics into coalition with FF and thus rendered them useless as a future opposition party.

Unless the Greens find the courage and break up this disastrous government coalition, the party will cease to be a factor in Irish politics.

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