Forget the ban on hare-coursing. Forget the reduction in the number of TDs. Forget plans for a universal single-tier health system. What will ultimately decide the vote on the Greens continuing in government is trust. Trust in ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan.
Between 2.30pm and 5.15pm next Saturday, an expected crowd of less than 500 members of the Green Party will cast their votes.
They will vote on two issues – should their party stay in government, and if they stay in government, should they support the National Assets Management Agency (Nama)?
The total electorate at the last general election in 2007 was 3,066,517. So a bizarre situation is set to unfold on Saturday when less than 500 people will hold the future of the country in their hands.
The stakes are as high as it gets in Irish politics. If two-thirds of the Greens in the room vote against the revised programme for government, which is still being thrashed out by Fianna Fáil and the Greens, then the smaller party will withdraw from the coalition and the government will collapse.
Saturday's meeting mirrors a similar meeting in June 2007 in Dublin's Mansion House when 86%, or 441 of the 510 party members in attendance, voted in favour of the new programme for government and the party created history by going into government.
Two years on and a very different party is at another historical crossroads. A document detailing the Green Party's shopping list of demands was presented to Taoiseach Brian Cowen last Tuesday by Green leader John Gormley (see panel above).
Since then, the Green negotiating team of Minister Eamon Ryan, Senator Dan Boyle, and Carlow-Kilkenny TD Mary White have been in talks with the Fianna Fáil team of ministers Noel Dempsey, Dermot Ahern and Mary Hanafin, before the revised programme will be put to the Green members on Saturday.
The Green 'wish list' is a comprehensive list of changes that covers a wide range of areas ranging from a ban on hare-coursing to climate change to a cut in the number of TDs. Crunch talks between the Fianna Fáil and Green negotiating teams will determine how much of that wish list is viable.
Last Wednesday, during a press conference before the Lisbon referendum, Minister John Gormley made a throwaway comment in response to a query about how ratification of the Lisbon treaty might increase military spending.
After explaining that it will have no effect, Gormley joked: "We don't have the money for military spending…" While the state doesn't have the money for military spending, it also doesn't have the money for much else and this premise will underline this week's negotiations.
Saturday's meeting will commence at 11am with a question-and-answer session and a debate on the revised programme for government before the members vote on the motion: "The Green Party will continue to participate in government on the basis of the new programme for government presented to this meeting."
The voting is due to conclude by 3.45pm and the debate on Nama will start straight afterwards with the vote on Nama to conclude by 5.15pm. The next chapter in the Greens' history will be known by teatime.
Former Green Party candidate and critic of Nama, James Nix, told the Sunday Tribune: "I think the existing programme for government will have to be substantially reshaped. The reality is that close to seven out of every 10 delegates will have to endorse the revised programme. Otherwise we have an election."
One worry is that those opposed to Nama, realising they have no chance of securing two-thirds opposition to carry the motion rejecting the bad-bank proposal, might target the vote on the programme for government. If 33.31% vote against the programme for government motion then the Greens will be out of government and Nama will inevitably fall.
"There is a possibility that various strands [with different aims] could combine to scupper the programme for government," one source conceded.
There is some anger among Green Party members that a second motion (motion B) on Nama that was originally agreed to be heard on Saturday has now been dropped.
This motion declared that on the basis of the recent preferendum held in Athlone, a number of elements would be attached to the Nama legislation. These included a provision that Nama would pay no higher than the current market value for loans and the 'social dividend' element would be included in the legislation.
Pat Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Greens Against Nama (GAN) said: "We got rail-roaded on the motions. The idea of a membership-driven party is just rubbish. It is top down since they have got rid of motion B.
"We saw motion B as a good compromise to get some rein on the €54bn to be spent on Nama. For those of us against Nama, we had come a long way. We had moved to accommodate a motion on what had come out of the preferendum in Athlone.
"Now we will be looking for 33.3% of the members to vote against the revised programme for government because a vote for it is giving a green light to Nama."
However, this view is not universal among Nama-sceptics. When asked if he believed the anti-Nama faction in the party might use the vote on the revised programme to quash Nama, Nix said: "My own hope is that people will view the revised programme for government and Nama separately. Nama has been separated from all other issues that pertain to continuing in government. I think members are being invited to judge them separately and I think they will. I think that the revised programme will go through but there is little margin for error."
The view that it will be tight but that the leadership will prevail is widely held across the party.
"It depends on the trust people have in our two cabinet members. And they do still have trust in them and the direction they are giving. For example, it mightn't get a lot of attention with the general public, but John [Gormley] has delivered big time on better planning since becoming environment minister. That would be noticed and appreciated by members," said one senior party figure, adding: "If John and Eamon [Ryan] specifically come before the party and ask for this to be supported, I'll trust John and Eamon... We are relevant for the first time in our existence. We can't allow that opportunity to slip through our hands."
However, another senior figure said that the renegotiated programme would be key. "Two-thirds support is a very, very high bar that we have set for ourselves but I would be reasonably confident that it can be achieved. It all depends on the deal.
"If you look back at the Mansion House two years ago, it was probably the two cabinet appointments that swayed it. The deal itself was pretty woolly. This time people won't be distracted by the baubles, they will be looking at policy. But I think ultimately, it will be okay," the source said.
Other close observers said that the make-up of the membership has changed in recent years with an influx of young, more pragmatic, less fundamentalist Greens, while many of the so-called 'fundis' have moved on.
Some of those who would be have been sceptical about the coalition deal with Fianna Fáil, such as Patricia McKenna, Chris O'Leary and Bronwyn Maher, have left the party.
And the relatively small size of the party's membership should also benefit the leadership. "The membership numbers are small. They would all know John [Gormley] and Eamon [Ryan] personally. Are they really going to vote against the express wishes of a friend and colleague?" asked one close observer.
The lengthy list of demands sought by the Greens in their re-negotiation of the programme for government with Fianna Fáil
* Overall education spending to be restored to September 2008 levels
* A reduction in the number of TDs
* A new third rate of income tax
* The abolition of the PRSI ceiling
* The integration of the income levies into tax rates
* A clampdown on tax exiles
* Animal welfare bill banning hare-coursing, stag-hunting, fur-farming and imports of wild animals for use in circuses
* No cuts to basic social-welfare entitlements
* Overseas development aid should not be cut
* More public transport initiatives in favour of road building projects
* A universal single-tier health system
* No third-level fees
* A new water charge system where households get a free basic allowance
* Change the electoral system to a mixture of multi-seat PR and a list system
* Cuts to politicians' salaries – Taoiseach (25%), ministers (20%) and backbenchers (10%)
* Creation of a new Department of Community, Equality and Culture
* Introduction of the cervical cancer vaccine
* Introduction of a new climate change bill
* An end to turf-cutting in designated raised bogs by the end of 2009
* Extension of the Western Rail Corridor
* Reform of appointments to state companies and agencies
The motion on the programme for government gets the required two-thirds majority and a second motion opposing Nama fails to get two-thirds support. The Greens continue in government and the last real obstacle to Nama becoming law disappears. All that's left now is the small matter of producing €3-€4bn in cutbacks as part of the upcoming budgetary process.
The motion on the programme for government fails to get the requisite two-thirds majority. The Greens, as signalled by leader John Gormley, cannot continue in government in these circumstances. Either Brian Cowen immediately goes to the Áras to seek a dissolution of the Dáil and a general election is called (6 November looking the most likely date) or the opposition immediately moves a motion of no-confidence in the now exclusively Fianna Fáil government. The opposition wins the vote, the Dáil is dissolved and a general election is called.
As party leader, Gormley will have a big role in selling the new programme for government. Probably doesn't attract the same devotion from the grassroots as Trevor Sargent did, but seen as having the party's best interests at heart and carries a lot of weight.
Despite criticism from some Greens that he has "gone native" since becoming a minister, Ryan is the party's best communicator and has that ability to bring people with him.
A matriarchal figure for many in the party, White is hugely trusted by the grassroots as being sound on Green issues. Her warmth will be a big positive in selling the deal.
Huge affection still for the former leader whose decision to honour his promise not to lead the Greens into government with Fianna Fáil, forsaking a cabinet position in the process, has only increased his authority and credibility.
As a newly elected county councillor – a distinctly rare breed in the Greens nowadays – Deary's words will carry weight. A pragmatist who understands economics and business, he is likely to back the leadership.
The mayor of Kilkenny is seen as ideologically sound, giving him serious credibility with members.
Quirky style but more pragmatic and 'in the camp' than perhaps his public utterances suggest. What, if any, commitments the Greens can secure on education in the new programme will be key and members will listen closely to what Gogarty, the party's education spokesman, has to say on the subject. If he's happy with what has been delivered, it will be a big boost to the prospects of getting the programme through the convention. However, if he's not, the reverse also holds true. Essential that the parliamentary party is united, so his views and those of Ciaran Cuffe, Dan Boyle and Deirdre de Burca will be crucial.
Very bright and articulate, Fitzgerald, along with James Nix in Limerick, is very much part of the new breed of young Greens. Stood unsuccessfully in the local elections in the Cabra-Glasnevin ward in Dublin but is well-regarded and his voice has been to the forefront in the internal questioning of Nama. His concerns have been listened to, but there are some signs of frustration towards this wing of the party from more established members who caution the need for realism.
The Clare councillor is well respected in the party, not least for holding his seat against the tide last June.