A maverick Green Party councillor has quit in protest at the party’s performance in government, it was revealed today.
In a scathing attack, Cork City Council’s Chris O’Leary said party chiefs seemed determined to stay in government whatever the price.
He claimed they were afraid to speak out for fear of losing their high-profile positions.
Mr O’Leary, 49, entered talks with the party after announcing his resignation in early December, but officially quit yesterday after leaders failed to convince him to stay.
“I believe the party were following a stay-in-government at all costs agenda,” Mr O’Leary said.
“In other words they were keeping their heads down, minding their own portfolios and were afraid to be seen to do anything in case they lost them.”
Mr O’Leary said he first expressed anger last October in the wake of budgetary cutbacks, claiming the vulnerable must be supported in the downturn.
The father of three, who stood in the 2004 European elections and for the Dáil in 2007, has been with the Green Party for almost 20 years.
He was co-opted on to Cork City Council to replace now Senator Dan Boyle after his election to the Dáil in 2002.
Mr O’Leary claimed the party was in crisis and accused the Government of lacking direction.
“The Irish Government lacks leadership, they seem to be very much like headless chickens,” Mr O’Leary said.
“We’ve had crisis after crisis and all they’re doing is knee-jerking to the crisis.”
He said there was no need for lengthening dole queues adding people could be given jobs as part of a public works scheme to improve the country’s infrastructure.
“It seems that they (government) are only bailing out the developers, the bankers and the property speculators,” Mr O’Leary said.
He claimed other people in the party were of a similar mindset and the Greens were facing a crisis.
Mary White, Green Party Carlow-Kilkenny TD, expressed her disappointment at the resignation but said it was not unexpected.
“He has always had strong doubts about our participation in government,” Ms White said.
“He made these views known at the many meetings and discussions which we hold on a regular basis for councillors and all of our members.”
Ms White said the party had already selected candidates to run in the upcoming local elections for 11 constituencies in Cork City and county.
She added the Government was best positioned to further its aims by being in power.
“And, as long as we are advancing our policies we must stay the course,” Ms White said.
“But, as my party Leader John Gormley has said, we are not in government for the sake of being there, and if we are not advancing our aims, then we must and we will think again.”
Mr O’Leary is to contest this year’s local elections as an independent.