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Green Party deputy leader says it is healthy to disagree with TD husband

Catherine Martin said it is presumptuous to think politicians will agree on everything just because they are married.

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Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin has said it is healthy for her husband to disagree with her over the programme for government.

Ms Martin voted in favour of the programme for government being put to her party’s membership.

However her husband, Green Party TD Francis Noel Duffy, was among a group of party members who abstained on the vote.

Ms Martin, who was the Greens’ lead negotiator during the talks, said it is not a perfect deal and it is healthy for members to disagree no matter what their connection.

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Pippa Hackett, Catherine Martin, Neasa Hourigan and Eamon Ryan during the Green Party’s general election manifesto launch (Caroline Quinn/PA)

Pippa Hackett, Catherine Martin, Neasa Hourigan and Eamon Ryan during the Green Party’s general election manifesto launch (Caroline Quinn/PA)

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Pippa Hackett, Catherine Martin, Neasa Hourigan and Eamon Ryan during the Green Party’s general election manifesto launch (Caroline Quinn/PA)

Ms Martin said: “The healthy debate in our house is mirrored in the party itself. It is a bit presumptuous to think two TDs will have the same views just because they’re married or in a relationship,” she told RTE radio.

“Francis is my husband so there is interesting times in our house. I saw someone tweet yesterday that we must be going home on separate bicycles and someone else said, ‘Shock horror – married couple disagrees’.

“We agree to disagree – some people say could I not convince Francis, I turn that on its head and say maybe Francis did not succeed in convincing me.

“The husband and wife disagreement is getting a lot of attention. It would be a bit presumptuous to think that two TDs in the same party would think totally alike and act accordingly because they’re in a relationship or because they’re siblings or cousins.

“One of the strengths in our relationship adds vibrancy and we need that freedom to disagree and challenge each other.

“Our strength as a party and our strength in our relationship is how we value diversity of opinion and how we listen and work together.”

The Green Party held an online convention ahead of a vote by the membership on whether to back the programme for government agreed with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

About 2,600 members of the Green Party in the Republic and Northern Ireland registered to watch the online convention.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called on members to back the deal.

TD Neasa Hourigan, who was a member of the negotiating team, said she could not vote for the agreement and that the new government would potentially worsen the housing and homelessness crisis.

Ms Martin said she would not like to see a return to austerity if the Green Party decides to go into government.

She said: “I’m absolutely confident that the Greens will make it a priority that austerity does not happen.

“This government would provide a substantial stimulus programme straight away to get the economy moving again. That will start straight away if all three memberships of the parties vote for this government deal next Friday. On Monday, that government will hit the ground running when it comes to the July stimulus package.”

Ms Martin defended the lack of costings contained in the programme for government.

She said: “The reality is no programme for government has had robust timelines and costings. When it comes to costings, the position we are in right now makes it difficult to say for certain where the public finances will be in the coming months.

“The Central Bank governor said we are only at the end of the beginning of the economic crisis presented by Covid-19.”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said claims from a councillor about his leadership of the party are “outrageous”.

Fianna Fail councillor John Paul Feeley said on Thursday that grassroots members were being “pressurised and bullied” into supporting the government deal agreed between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Greens.

“I think the latter part of (Mr Feeley’s assertion) should be withdrawn … that is an outrageous assertion. It is a secret ballot going out to more than 15,000 members and there has been vigorous debate,” he told Northern Sound FM.

“The idea of having a ballot allows for debate and for people to discuss the proposals.. there is very strong positive feedback coming back from the grassroots members in support for the deal.”

PA