Ireland’s junior coalition party, the Greens, threatened today to bring down the Government in a row over filling Cabinet seats left empty by a string of ministerial resignations in a day of high drama at Government Buildings.
Amid chaos over vacant positions, leader John Gormley said his party had warned Taoiseach Brian Cowen that it would not vote for unilateral changes.
Mr Gormley revealed that he was not notified of the announcement late last night of five ministerial resignations.
“I had no indication whatsoever that there were going to be any resignations,” he said.
Detailing an almost complete breakdown in communications with the senior Government party Fianna Fáil, Mr Gormley said new Cabinet appointments were initially put forward as a fait accompli.
The Green leader said he warned his party would vote against the new, short-term appointments ahead of a March election threatening the future of the coalition.
Mr Gormley said he phoned the Taoiseach after a 7am news bulletin reported that a major Cabinet reshuffle was on the cards.
“I expressed my surprise and dismay,” he said. “I repeated the line that I really didn’t think it was a good idea.”
The 15-member Cabinet was left almost half empty late last night after Mary Harney left health, Dermot Ahern justice, Tony Killeen defence and Noel Dempsey transport.
Mr Cowen had already taken on foreign affairs duties after rebel Micheál Martin resigned following a failed leadership challenge on Tuesday.
Batt O’Keeffe, a long time friend of the Taoiseach’s, dramatically added to the chaos by resigning from the Cabinet this morning.
Mr Gormley said he believed the public would not stand for new ministers being appointed with the Government in its dying days.
He added: “I have to tell you that there were other ministers from the Fianna Fail party who thought it was not a good idea.”
Mr Gormley revealed a series of meetings were held between senior Green members including himself, Senator Dan Boyle, Communications Minister Eamon Ryan and junior minister Mary White with the Taoiseach yesterday and today.
“During the meetings they said that they would not be able to vote for it in the Dáil,” Mr Gormley.
“We made it very clear to the Taoiseach and other ministers we could not support this if it went to a vote.”
Mr Gormley said he spoke to Dermot Ahern and Mary Harney after he finished a television interview yesterday evening and neither mentioned their pending resignations.
He went on to reveal that his wife told him about Ms Harney’s resignation after the nine o’clock news.
Mr Gormley said trust would be eroded when there is a lack of communication and mis-communication.