Green Party expresses support for Taoiseach

GREEN PARTY ministers have expressed full support in Taoiseach Brian Cowen, but ducked questions on whether they would tolerate another off performance by the head of Government.

Party leader John Gormley also revealed that, while the Cabinet had spoken about Mr Cowen’s Morning Ireland interview at its meeting on Wednesday, ministers had not pressed him into making the subsequent televised apology for his poor performance.

Mr Gormley said he believed Mr Cowen understood what had angered people and it was time for the Government to move on. “I think he has already learned those lessons. I think he fully understands that the interview was below par, as he said himself. He has apologised for that and I think he apologised in a very profound way to the Irish people.

“He said that he did not mean any disrespect and... that is where we as a party want to leave the issue.”

Mr Gormley said speculation about whether or not the Taoiseach was drunk in the early hours of Tuesday had been inappropriate and he criticised Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney for suggesting as much on the Twitter website.

In a feisty exchange with journalists, Mr Gormley attempted to cite reports which said the Taoiseach did not appear drunk in Galway, but he was corrected by the person whose report he sought to refer to as evidence.

The Greens leader was told, while the Taoiseach did not look drunk in the Ardilaun Hotel, he did not look sober either.

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said the Taoiseach had recognised the interview did not give people hope and confidence and that was the reason he had gone out to address the matter.

He said he had full confidence in the Taoiseach’s ability to lead the country. Mr Ryan’s parliamentary party endorsed this confidence.

The Green Party TDs and senators were gathered in the Lord Bagenal Hotel in Leighlinbridge, Carlow, for their pre-Dáil gathering.

Mr Gormley rejected any suggestion the party would be wiped out at the next General Election.

“We are going to have seats in the Dáil,” he said.

The party leader said parallels could not be drawn with the Progressive Democrats because the structure and ideology of the party was different.

The Green Party has a more established and committed base, he said.

Regarding the election, the environment minister said candidate selections had already taken place and posters were prepared. But this was not in the expectation of a snap ballot.

“That is not to say we are expecting anything any day soon, it is just being as vigilant as you ought to be,” he said.

The biggest prize for the Green Party in the new Dáil term will be the delivery of a law to ban corporate donations of political parties.

In his Morning Ireland interview Mr Cowen was unclear about whether or not this would be acted on.

However, after ending the last term in a bitter fight with Fianna Fáil backbenches over a ban on stag hunting and new rules for dog breeding, Mr Gormley said he did not predict the same friction on the donations issue.

“There are obviously going to be tensions from time to time. And you even get tensions within political parties themselves, as you saw with Fine Gael.

“But I think that you work through these issues and that is why we have programme managers and we try as best we can to deal with any difficult issues and I am confident we can continue to deal with that.”


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