Green chiefs play down Ahern fears

GREEN leaders moved to head off a row with grassroots activists last night by insisting it was a question of when Bertie Ahern quits as taoiseach, not if he goes.

Senator Dan Boyle tried to play down fears that support for Mr Ahern could provoke an angry flash point at the party’s looming conference following an outspoken attack on the Taoiseach’s fitness for office by a senior Green member.

Senior Green adviser Niall Ó Brolcháin broke ranks to say the Taoiseach should resign due to the “question marks” over his past business affairs. He also predicted the issue would be raised at Green’s Louth gathering next month.

Mr Boyle conceded that some of the evidence from the Mahon Tribunal was a cause for “concern” and was taking attention away from policy achievements by the Greens, but insisted the only question about Mr Ahern’s future was the date of his resignation.

The party leadership has insisted it would not act as Fianna Fáil’s “financial watchdog” and was focusing on its programme for government commitments.

Mr Boyle admitted there was some concern about what was emerging from the tribunal saying: “There is obvious concern about fragments of evidence that has come out of the tribunal.

“There is the expectation that Bertie Ahern will step down eventually. It is the how and the when that remain to be determined.”

He conceded the attention being drawn by the tribunal was taking away from achievements by the Greens in government. “We have a lot of good-news stories [that] we’d like to be getting attention, which are not getting that because of the focus on the tribunal.”

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