I have always feared that I might be starting a rightward drift that will result in my being a fearsome neocon in my later middle-age, using specious arguments of notional liberty à la Christopher Hitchens and various members of New Labour to justify starting wars of civilisations. I think I'm doing all right though but my pragmatism vis-à-vis the Greens' jumping into bed with the Soldiers of Destiny suggests that maybe I am beginning to shed my youthful idealism.
Many have attacked the Greens for their entering government without securing what they wanted on key issues, such as the planned M3 through Tara and the Shannon stopovers. The following letter in today's Irish Times:
Madam, - Rarely has an aphorism - in this case "power corrupts" - been so vividly evinced as on the Irish political stage this week. It appears that the leaders of the Green Party have capitulated on both the substance and spirit of their manifesto, agreeing (among other things) to run a motorway through Tara's archaeological complex.
The Green Party is now an abject creature, shivering at the heel of Fianna Fáil. - Yours, etc,
J. DONNELLY, Balbriggan, Co Dublin.
The failure of the Greens to get concessions on the above issues is both depressing and worrying but what world are these critics of the Greens living in? The Greens had the option to stay out of government, where they would have remained a noble oppositional voice that, for all their campaigning and haranguing, would be able to do little to influence the environmental policy of the next government. Now, they have crossed over to the ruling side, using what leverage they might reasonably expect with six TDs, and there are fools claiming that they have already been corrupted by power. The objective of any Green party worth its name is to advance an environmental agenda; given the nature of Irish politics, the only feasible way of them doing this in the next five years is by being part of government. Of course they may suffer from such an engagement with Fianna Fáil - as the old adage goes, when you wrestle with a pig, both parties get covered in muck, and the pig likes it. However, compromise is the sad reality of politics, especially for a marginal party such as the Greens. Five more years of Fianna Fáil is depressing but having a smaller, more principled party there is better than what was there in the last coaliton. In addition, Ireland now has its first genuinely ecologically-minded Minister for the Environment. Some good might come of this. Fair play to the Greens for willing to put their self-righteousness on the line. Let's hope that they subject Bertie's shennanigans to more scrutiny than the PDs did.