Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan
Audrey Carville spoke to Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about Government formation talks.
It follows the Green Party yesterday calling for the formation of “a crisis national government to be reviewed in three months” on account of the coronavirus pandemic, an idea rejected by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin.
It also took place ahead of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil holding more informal talks today.
From the interview:
Audrey Carville: “Your suggestion appears to have been rejected. Would you agree?”
Neasa Hourigan: “Yeah, it didn’t receive the consideration that we were hoping, certainly. We think that this is a time of national crisis. We think that it requires us to unite and to focus on that crisis.
“It’s going to impact all of the sectors of our community, it’s going to impact our economy. So it is disappointing that I feel, you know, they didn’t really take very long to think about it at all.”
Carville: “So do you now cover your blushes and go back into talks with both parties [Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael] about forming a government or do you stay out?”
Hourigan: “No, I think that…look, first of all, we have to come together as a group anyway and discuss that. But I stood on doorsteps up in Dubli Central and I never promised people that I wouldn’t necessarily go in with any particular party but what we did promise people is that we would negotiate a programme for government based on policy.
“Now what we know is that in the middle of a crisis, that it’s not appropriate now for us to be going through and doing the kind of granular important work of making a programme for government for five years while there are people ill, while there are people, you know, in hospitals, dying.
“So we’ve already heard from the two bigger parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, who are trying to make a government, that actually, they agree. They’re not interested now in doing those serious policy talks. What they want to do is fast-track a government, divvy up the ministries and get out with it. And that is not possible…”
Carville: “So are you in or out of those talks?”
Hourigan: “At the moment, we have to meet again but I can’t see us going back into those talks, no”
Carville: “Right, so you’re, you’ll be on the sidelines, watching in as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, plus Independents, put together a government?”
Hourigan: “Well, we would like them to consider again the national government idea. I think that it’s really worrying, having heard all of the parties actually who are sitting in Dáil Éireann, talk about the need for cross-party reaction to the coronavirus and, saying that, I can only take them at face value. In the last few days, they have been saying that a lot.
“And now, all of a sudden, when we say ‘well, well, you know, let’s really do that then’, ‘let’s not focus on your own ambition. Let’s look at how we can really serve the people, really serve the public’.
“Now, all of a sudden, it seems an incredible ask, now all of a sudden, it’s not something that’s possible. We can’t work together. We can’t work with other people…”
Carville: “You have that cross-party co-operation when it comes to the coronavirus, the party leaders are all in touch with each other, that is working. What many feel…”
Talk over each other
Carville: “If I could just finish…what many people feel is that the country needs a strong government with a working majority and a strong opposition at a time of crisis.”
Hourigan: “I think that’s incorrect. What the Government needs is a mandate. What we have right now is a government making decisions with no mandate. A national government would provide a mandate. There is no need to take the next five or six days and argue about who gets to be Taoiseach and who gets to be the Minister for Health. Let’s just move forward and actually look at how we can best protect people. I mean we have parties saying ‘we’re ready for government’ and ‘we’re serious about being in government’ and ‘there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in government’.
“And yet now is your chance to put your money where your mouth is and they’re not interested.”
Carville: “Do you support how the Government is responding at the moment. Is it sufficiently urgent in terms of Covid-19?”
Hourigan: “I think we should be acting aggressively to stem the spread of Covid-19. We support the HSE, we support the Government, we support the chief medical officer, we did put out a press release yesterday, looking at the WHO recommendations and I notice the World Health Organisation did the same and there’s a number of health organisations who have done that, saying ‘let’s put everything on the table, all of the measures that we have seen, across Europe, in terms of limiting gatherings, in terms of giving social distancing advice’.
“Let’s put all of that on the table and have a really serious conversation about it and if there is political will or support needed in terms of the worry about the impact on the economy, we will provide that.”
Listen back in full here
Yesterday: Meanwhile, At Leinster House