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Green proposals on deficit were shot down by other two parties

  • Meeting today to debate if Ryan’s party will accept deal

  • TD risks DCC probe over missing document

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Green Party leader Eamon Ryan talks with the media outside Government Buildings

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan talks with the media outside Government Buildings

PA

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan talks with the media outside Government Buildings

A Green Party plan to postpone reducing the budget deficit until the State has the "capacity to repay" its debts was shot down by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in Government talks.

Proposals to ban hare coursing, some live animal exports, and defund the greyhound industry were also resisted by the Civil War parties.

The Green Party meets today to debate the proposed programme for government ahead of a crucial vote on whether or not to go into coalition.

Elected representatives will take part in a virtual convention ahead of postal voting by more than 2,000 members amid a requirement for a two-thirds majority to pass the deal.

While the membership of the other parties must also approve the government plans, all eyes will be on the Greens as there is massive uncertainty over whether the deal will pass such a high bar.

Party leader Eamon Ryan and his deputy Catherine Martin -who has challenged him for the top job - have backed the deal.

Others like Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan have yet to say if they will do so.

Ms Hourigan and fellow TDs Francis Noel Duffy - Ms Martin's husband - and Patrick Costello abstained from a parliamentary party vote on the agreement on Monday night.

Their contributions will be closely watched as the Greens debate the programme for government today.

The result of the party's ballot - along with those of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will be revealed on Friday, June 26.

The meeting comes as a document, seen by this newspaper, outlines the language submitted by the Greens on the contentious issue of deficit reduction, which is expected to hit €30bn this year as a result of the Covid emergency spending measures.

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The Green Party’s Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan has cited concerns over the deficit reduction target

The Green Party’s Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan has cited concerns over the deficit reduction target

The Green Party’s Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan has cited concerns over the deficit reduction target

The Greens, led by finance spokesperson Ms Hourigan, repeatedly expressed concerns about committing to reducing the deficit and returning to a balanced budget at a time of recession and unemployment.

However, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail demanded a clear commitment to deficit reduction during the lifetime of the next government.

The programme for government states: "As the economy returns to growth and employment growth is restored, the deficit will be reduced year-on-year to underpin the sustainability of the public finances."

Ms Hourigan has so far not endorsed the deal, citing concerns on the deficit reduction target. The Greens had wanted to link returning to a balanced budget to specific economic indicators.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the deficit was the subject of "robust" discussions, but that the document recognises that the public finances will have to be sustainable and "that will require reducing the deficit and the debt as a proportion of our economy".

Investigation

Ms Hourigan did not respond to calls.

Green Party negotiator Roderic O'Gorman insisted the parties have agreed that only when the economy grows will the deficit be addressed. "This approach allows the economy to do the heavy lifting and does not involve austerity," he said.

Separately, Ms Hourigan risked being investigated by Dublin City Council after she failed to respond to a request that she submit an Ethics Declaration.

Ms Hourigan insists she had returned the document on time in January but admits she should have acted "immediately" once Dublin City Council (DCC) authorities asked her to submit the declaration when it couldn't be found.

Ms Hourigan gave up her DCC seat when she was elected to the Dail.

Councillors are required to make Ethics Declarations in February each year, listing interests in property or business.

Ms Hourigan's declaration was not among those of other councillors which were published on DCC's website.

Officials were unable to locate a copy of her declaration.

The council subsequently tried to contact Ms Hourigan by email but no response was received. DCC told the Herald that the Lord Mayor and city chief executive were notified of the matter this week.

Under legislation, they decide on action that may be taken including possible investigation.

Ms Hourigan later contacted DCC to say she would submit the document which declares her private residence as her only interest.

She said: "My ethics statement was submitted to the reception of Dublin City Council offices in early January.

"However the document was not received by the executive's office and I should have rectified this immediately when notified a few weeks ago.

"I have now submitted all paperwork."