Eamon Ryan: You cannot vote against Govt if you are part of it

Eamon Ryan: You cannot vote against Govt if you are part of it
Eamon Ryan said he took current circumstances into account when deciding how the TDs should be reprimanded. Photo: Rollingnews.ie

The leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan has said he has warned members that voting against the Government weakens it.

It comes after he sanctioned two of his TDs for failing to support a Government housing bill yesterday.

Junior Minister Joe O'Brien and Deputy Neasa Hourigan have had speaking rights removed for two months, which will cover just two weeks of Dáil time when it returns.

Minister Ryan said he took current circumstances into account when deciding how the TDs should be reprimanded.

The leader of the Greens said: "Every party has a different approach, this is not unusual circumstances we had to take into account precedent and also the circumstances of this moment.

"It's the last day of the Dáil, we want to regroup and come back stronger working together as a team when we come back in September because the country needs stable, strong Government."

He added that he made it very clear at a parliamentary party meeting last night that members cannot vote against Government, as it weakens its strength.

Minister Ryan said: "You cannot vote against Government, if you are in Government, you cannot abstain if you are in Government.

"It weakens our strength, it weakens Government, it doesn't work and I'm confident that our own party members know that."

Ms Hourigan said it was not her intention to vote against the Government in the future and hoped there was still a place for her within the Green Party.

Commenting on the controversy which erupted over her opposition to Government legislation, Ms Hourigan said she expected to be sanctioned by her party for her actions and accepted the ruling.

“I knew what I was doing and therefore whatever they decided was right,” said Ms Hourigan.

The Dublin Central TD declined to comment on what was discussed at Thursday’s night parliamentary party meeting but confirmed she attended the discussion that decided on her sanction.

She added: “I hope that this simply won’t arise again.” 

Ms Hourigan, who had opposed the Green Party entering into coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael despite being one of her party’s chief negotiators, acknowledged that what happened was probably “very frustrating” for the Green’s government partners.

She admitted dealing with her “must be very trying at times.” 

Defending her position, Ms Hourigan said she had been anxious to ensure protections introduced for tenants following the Covid-19 outbreak remained in place until January and had made her concerns known to her parliamentary party at the start of the week.

She claimed some of the amendments proposed by Opposition TD were quite good for extending protections to a wider group of people.

“I felt that it was worth trying to open a conversation around the accepting of Opposition amendments when they were worthwhile,” she observed.

Ms Hourigan said she had received contrary advice to that given to the Government by the Attorney General that a further extension of the legislation beyond August would be unconstitutional.

She believed having the issue adjudicated on by the courts would have been “the thing to do.” Ms Hourigan said the Green Party had a tradition of accepting diverse voices but she was also aware that there are “huge compromises to be made when you go into government.” 

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