Veteran Green Patricia McKenna today stoked up her fiery relationship with the junior coalition partners by standing against them in the European elections.
The party’s first ever MEP revealed she was embarrassed to remain within their ranks and would instead run as an independent in next month’s poll.
Green Senator Deirdre de Burca, who will stand against her in the Dublin constituency, accused Ms McKenna of unfairly timing the announcement to cause maximum embarrassment to the party.
“I think Patricia is addicted to the politics of opposition,” she said.
Ms de Burca said the Greens had not been officially notified that Ms McKenna was resigning and would now have to look at the possibility of expelling her from the party.
Two-time MEP Ms McKenna, a thorn in the party leadership’s side in recent times, revealed her intentions to stand as an independent in an interview with Hot Press magazine.
“I feel embarrassed about being a member of the Green Party, because of what we said in the past and the promises we made, which we failed to deliver on,” she said.
“I just knew that I couldn’t run under a Green Party ticket and pretend that everything was all right because I’d be lying.”
She also attacked senior party figures for their partnership with Fianna Fáil, including Energy Minister Eamon Ryan’s stance on the Corrib gas pipeline protesters.
“We just abandoned them. I really don’t know how Eamon can live with himself after all his promises,” she said.
“There’s a huge number of issues that we campaigned on and were meant to have prioritised that have been pushed to one side.
“In the past, you could trust the Greens. We weren’t going to abandon our principles just for the sake of getting hold of some power. But that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
In a broadside against John Gormley she said the Greens leader had lost credibility as a politician.
“He once strongly criticised Michael McDowell as being the Tammy Wynette of Irish politics. And then he turned around and he was the Tammy Wynette of the Green Party, standing by Bertie.”
Ms McKenna became Ireland’s first Green Party MEP in 1994 when she was elected in Dublin. She retained the seat in 1999, however she wasn’t returned by voters in the 2004 election.
She also failed to get elected in the Dublin Central constituency in the 2007 general election.
A long-standing champion of the fundamentalist wing of the party, she ran for the leadership after Trevor Sargent stepped down but lost out to the pragmatists’ choice Mr Gormley.
She strongly opposed going into government with Fianna Fáil and campaigned against the Lisbon Treaty in last year’s referendum, which was supported by the Green leadership.
Ms de Burca said she wasn’t surprised at her colleague’s decision but criticised her for remaining within the party ranks for so long while openly attacking it.
“Of course there are things you can criticise about TDs and Senators, but I think Patricia has chosen the easy way out,” she said.
“It seems to me she is always on the outside pointing in and criticising. It’s much harder to be inside, as the Green Party now is, in Government, trying to make a change from within.”
Meanwhile, the Greens officially unveiled their two candidates for the forthcoming by-elections.
Limerick-born lawyer David Geary is running in Dublin Central while Elizabeth Davidson, who works as a film classifier, has been selected for Dublin South.
Mr Gormley denied his party’s candidates were getting a backlash from voters on the doorsteps because it was in government with Fianna Fáil.
“People are making a distinction between the Green Party and Fianna Fáil. The feedback is that we are doing well in Government. The reaction on the doorsteps is positive.” he said.