At the time of writing this post we don't yet know what the contents of the programme for government that has just been agreed by Fianna Fáil and the Greens. But regardless of its contents the membership of the Greens should nevertheless resist the lure of the spoils of office on this occasion. First of all the Greens are not needed to put together a governing majority. FF, the rump PDs and a few independents can do this easily, especially if someone from the opposition benches can be persuaded to be the new Ceann Comhairle. Therefore the Greens will have little leverage over the general direction and tenor of government policy and especially over crunch issues that may arise. The obvious point is that they can leave the government without precipitating its fall. In other words they are surplus to requirements in terms of the minimum winning coalition scenario.
More importantly going into office means that the Greens will help to bring about a dominant party system that will guarantee that Fianna Fáil will be in government forever. As Terry Prone put it "Fianna Fáil wants to be the cherry-picker party, permanently in full-term government with an ever-changing bowl of cherries". It will be almost impossible to conceive of any government that doesn't have Fianna Fáil. Having that party permanently in office would make our political system fundamentally uncompetitive and if you can never "throw the bastards out", our democracy will suffer a legitimation deficit. People will wonder what's the point in voting if the only difference the election makes is who will partner Fianna Fáil?
The Greens should bide their time for another while. Local elections may produce more candidates to contest the next general election. The Greens are a good campaigning party. Why not build on this and align with other progressive forces and build a progressive block that can be a serious alternative to coalitions that are inevitably led by conservative forces, be they FF or FG? They won't be alone in this endeavour. There will be many members of the Labour Party similarly inclined and it might even dawn on some rank-and-file Sinn Féiners that it's time to make up their mind if they want to be part of this.