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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 12, 2010 @ 11:22 am

    Deirdre de Búrca, George Lee, Who’s Next?

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    What are we to make of Deirdre de Búrca’s resignation from the Seanad? That’s two Oireachtas members in one week. What’s going on? Are they just individuals with issues or does it reflect a wider trend? Her letter to John Gormley (reproduced below) is a stinging attack on the Greens and on the party leader himself.  There’s no ambiguity: “I have lost confidence in you”.

     Very hard to square this with the overwhelming support the Green leadership got at their RDS conference a few  months ago, endorsing the Renewed Programme for Government and their approach to NAMA. Anyway, here is the text of the letter in full, for your consideration and, no doubt, comments:-

    Dear John,
    I am writing to inform you of my intention to resign from the Green Party Parliamentary Party and from Seanad Eireann with immediate effect.
    It is with great sadness that I tender my resignation, having served as an elected member of the Green Party for eight years on Wicklow County Council and for a further two and a half years as a member of Seanad Eireann. During that time I have worked faithfully on behalf of the party to try to advance its political agenda in order to put this country on a more sustainable path.
    I regret to say that I can no longer support the Green Party in government, as I believe that we have gradually abandoned our political values and our integrity and in many respects have become no more than an extension of the Fianna Fail party. I have had a number of conversations with you as Party Leader over many months now about my growing discomfort with the decisions that the Green Party has been supporting in government. You have been very aware of my frustration with the fact that despite the Green Party holding the balance of power in this government for some time now, our willingness to try to exercise that influence appears to grow less with every passing week.
    As a party, we seem to have been paralysed by the electorate’s rejection of many of our candidates (including myself) in the local and European elections last June. Any suggestion that we challenge Fianna Fail, or face it down over important issues, seems to bring up a great fear in us that we will have to leave government. In fact staying in government appears to have become an end in itself now for the Green Party. While I was always aware that our political inexperience as a party would leave us vulnerable to being manipulated by Fianna Fail in government, what I hadn’t predicted was the strong attachment to office that appears to have developed since we became part of government.
    It is with regret also that I must also inform you that I have lost confidence in you as Party Leader. The Parliamentary Party has had almost daily meetings now since well before Christmas at which we have discussed the very real problems we are experiencing in getting Fianna Fail to co-operate with us in implementing policy initiatives that were agreed as part of the original, and the revised Programme for Government. From stonewalling us and trying to unravel key aspects of our policy initiatives being implemented, to ignoring our input into the preparation of new legislation, to reneging on two key agreements made between Party Leaders, the Fianna Fail Party continues to ‘run rings’ around us and to take advantage of our inexperience and our very obvious fear of facing the electorate.
    Despite the fact that you have been asked on many occasions over the past few months by the Parliamentary Party to take a stronger line with Brian Cowen and the Fianna Fail party in relation to certain core issues, you have clearly been unable, or unwilling to do so. Unfortunately the effect of this unwillingness to act is that the Green Party has been slowly haemhorraging support because of a growing public perception that we have lost the courage of our convictions and have become no more than an obedient ‘add-on’ to Fianna Fail. For example, I am aware that you as Minister have a key report in front of you from Dr Niamh Brennan on the issue of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. I’m afraid I lack the confidence that the findings of this report will be acted on in the timely and appropriate manner that the public interest requires.
    I believe that in your role as Party Leader you have done a disservice to the Green Party and to its members in allowing this ‘drift’ to occur. It would appear that holding onto office and to seats have become more important to the party than holding on to its fundamental political purpose. We have lost our way as a party and I am sad to say that it has reached a point where I, and most of the people I know, will be unable to vote Green in the next election.
    I don’t take this decision to tender my resignation lightly. I am very clear however that I do not want to be part of what the Green Party is continuing to support in Government.
    Yours sincerely

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      A Green Tendency grouping in prospect come the next election?

    • Des FitzGerald says:

      Never mind a week in politics – a few days and the chances of Enda Kenny becoming Taoiseach soooer rather than later have improved.

      We know Fianna Fáil was never a policy driven party and that it has never attracted that sort of person. We also know breaking the 80 year habit of people unthinkingly voting for that party, and refusing to face up to the consequences of what they’ve done, will take time. We know all that.

      However, why the Greens thought they would fare better than Labour or the PDs is not clear.

      The chance of power and to show the Greens were capable is reasonable up to a point. When it became clear that they were having no influence the Greens turned down the chance to leave and at their special conference voted to remain with FF. That’s what sealed their fate.

      The public will find it hard to forgive the Green Party as long they refuse to accept they made a bad choice when entering government with FF.

      I think De Burca is right about Gormless though. I can’t wait for the next election to cast my vote for Fine Gael & Labour only.

    • barbera says:

      Horrible thing — to get a “Dear John” letter.

      I shouldn’t worry, though, if I were Mr Gormley. Individuals who throw hissy fits and expect dramatic changes to occur after a few bouts of rabble-rousing rhetoric have no place in modern politics, which is all about long, long hours of diplomacy and the ups and downs of compromise; but most of all it is about keeping a cool head and staying the pace … and believing that change will come.

    • Mat says:

      It is obvious that Deirdre De Burca is taking the soup, with a cushy number in Brussels.

    • El Leader Maximo says:

      Green fudge

    • John Mc says:

      I voted Green in the last GE because I thought that I knew what they stood for. I saw interested and interesting candidates. they have been swallowed not just by FF but by the system.
      Shame on them!!!

    • Deaglán says:

      Got it wrong, Mat!

    • Jonathan says:

      The (Green) Vegetables in this government are a complete joke.
      They’re either bleating on about totally peripheral issues like light bulbs, or making half-hearted mutterings like “the banking enquiry won’t be in secret, it will be in private” so as to fudge over their spinelessness and incompetence.
      And it’s not as if there’s nothing that needs to be done on the environmental front here. We are living in a country which has a state body responsible for carving up the countryside so that we can burn it in our fireplaces. Has anybody ever heard the Vegetables say a word about this?

    • paul m says:

      i think what is truly shocking here is these politicians jumping off the bandwagon and not retaining their seat as an independent.

      You were elected by a constituency and you owe it to people to preserve some presence in politics that can have an effect.

      Independents have been the sticking plaster for many a FF government and as such have been far more richly rewarded than any secondary party that has gone into government with them. Tony Gregory is a shining example of political nous.

      George and Deirdre really don’t understand the game and I think they will regret jumping out so quickly without a thought for the people who put them there in the first place.

      Are these people afraid a bit of bloody hard work!? They’ve clearly had it too easy in life.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Funny how even with a ‘loser’ leader like Enda Kenny that Fine Gael still attracts about 35% of the voting public. What % do people think it would attract with Richard Bruton when 30% at the very least will vote FF no matter what, 20% will vote Labour, 10% will vote Sinn Fein – that leaves 40% and FG is on 34%.

      Are people in FG so thick they might actually think Bruton can do better?

      So despite Kenny apparently ‘not nailing it’ with the public he isn’t preventing anyone voting for FG or at worst maybe 1 or 2%. Anyone who says they won’t vote for FG because of Kenny is a liar and would never vote FG anyway.

      I’d like to think there are some Irish people who are intelligent enough to understand Kenny leads a team and the overall content of the team is what matters. So Kenny needs to do his homework before going on TV and make sure FG has the likes of Tubridy by the balls when he is doing interviews etc etc – that’s what FG is meant to have a media team to do.

      Lee is over and gone. Done and dusted and Kenny is sailing smoothly to the Taoiseach’s office – there’s just open calm sea ahead of him – his goal is to make sure he doesn’t knock himself overboard and that he knows enough about sailing to deal with any bumps from over-eager dolphins or whatever and they don’t knock him off course.

      Hold your nerve Fine Gael, is the message.

      As for the Green claims to be reforming and implementing policy! I doubt Gormless actually believes that although he has to say it – the risk is if someone like GoGo actually believes it.

      The Greens can’t even get the most basic reform of expenses right or honest – what hope do they have for the bigger things?

    • kynos says:

      Well Lenihan will lead FF into the next election and Bruton will lead FG. Each will try to do a deal with Labour and the Shinners and the Greens will crawl off to lick their wounds and reflect that tho’ the money’s gone the bottles are no fewer and regret their empty principles and curse the devil brewer who stole their self-respect from them and filled it full of holes and made them boil their values away in the still-room of the souls that’s known as Leinster House.

    • barbera says:

      Who’s next? I know! Deputy Joan Burton will quit the Labour Party and defect to Montrosia where she will be given a talk show. No guests — just Joan talking, talking, talking, talking, talking, talking ……….eventually everyone in RTE will die of overexposure to La Burton’s verbosity and the Government will realize what a great WMD (woman of mass destruction) they have at their disposal and La Burton will be offered to the highest bidder and deployed by them to whatever war zone … to talk the enemy to death ………

    • Sean O Loinsigh says:

      The Lee and de Búrca resignations may seem unsatisfactory: one too soon, the other too late, while both savour of selfish financial interests. But what makes them in fact so very satisfactory is the self-serving, miserableness of the two political parties from which they resigned.

      The resignations highlight the need for intelligent reform leading to greater democracy: a Senate with more (not less) seats of the character of the six university ones.

      Also, most important, we need a third house of parliament: the Internet House, where anyone so interested may become a member, and participate in debates and votes. Any legislation failing in that house, and insisted upon by the government, or passed in that house but rejected in the other houses, would have to be put to the whole people (internet users and non-users alike) in a referendum.

      Let’s have more power to the plain people (the good eggs) and less power retained by the political dynasty families (the bad eggs).

    • Deh Buckle says:

      Dear John,

      I am talking to you again. I wanted a job on the EU gravy train. And I didn’t get it. It’s the Catholic Church’s fault.

      No thanks,
      Dear Dreh Deh Buckle

    • Deh Buckle says:

      Incidentally Baby Bruton made some ferociously stupid judgements down the years. And that is before Joan Burton starts making ‘input’ into government policies….

    • barbera says:

      I know! George & Deirdre will join forces and become I slam fundamentalists and form the de Burka and Bin Leedin I slam Runaway Party.
      (I slam = I slam the door in my boss’s face)

    • Michael says:

      If you had a set of twins, one male and one female, and they were named George and Deirdre – how many soothers would they need ?

      Leaving Certificate 2010 – Honours mathematics or psychology paper.

    • robespierre says:

      You are emphatically wrong Desmond. Maybe it is because you are in London.

      Of the 15-20 (non-blueshirt or ex-blueshirt) friends I have, all in business, all early thirties and most of whom have voted FF since 1997, all have said they would vote FG if they had Richard Bruton as the Taoiseach-in-waiting.

      None of us will or would vote Labour and the level of antipathy towards FF is astounding especially from some relatively apathetic people. That leaves FG in the absence of the PD’s.

      If you want a flower to bloom you have to be willing to prune and deadhead.

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      Is it me or has everyone gone totally ‘mum n dad’?

    • barbera says:

      … continuing on from 12 above … having been acquired by the ‘war-on-terror’ brigade, the plan is that WMD Burton is to be taken and set upon the highest peak (N?sh?k, I do believe) in Gfahanistan, powerful megaphone in hand. Soon all the confused and beleaguered al-Q mentalists will be seen crawling out from the myriad nooks and crannies of the foothills of Gfahanistan. Hands over ears and filling the air with pitiful screams of MAKE HER STOP! MAKE HER STOP! FOR PITY’S SAKE! MAKE THIS WOMAN STOP! But nothing will stop this WMD and soon the enemy will be on its back — like a pile of dying insects in their death throes … but it may not work like this – enemy operatives may get wind of this new weapon and find some of their own. Depending on possible rejection by Montrosia, a certain Bird may fly away and join up with the founding members of the Runaway I slam fundamentalists Party, de Burka and Bin Leedin and all may defect to al-Q and be deployed to the peaks of the Himalayas to countershout WMD Burton………I really don’t know where this is going now…….and why didn’t anyone think of ear-plugs?

    • Gerald Horgan says:

      I wonder will any Irish politican say anything about this?
      “The eyes of Fox pundits Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity may not be smiling at Ann Coulter’s latest slur.

      In defending former Vice President Dick Cheney against criticism from current Vice President Joe Biden, the controversial conservative commentator fell back on an old racial stereotype: The drunken Irishman.

      “It almost is kind of effective to send out this drunken Irishman to respond to Dick Cheney,” Coulter said, referring to the war of words between the two vice presidents on this Sunday’s news talk shows. “It’s like sending out the White House dog. It’s saying, ‘We so don’t respect you, we’re sending in Joe Biden.”

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      Barb.ie @12 & 20 you’ve surpassed yourself there girl! What are you on? And can I have some? Like the WMD analogy…

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @18 – so what is it these people you know think Richard Bruton wuold do as leader that he can’t now do as finance spokesperson? Also I seem to recall being told the same thing about Alan Dukes, then John Bruton, then Michael Noonan/Jim Mitchell and funny enough when they all became leader they weren’t so great at it but more importantly … the very people you claim to know who said they’d support FG ‘if only …’ were among the first to turn on that same person.

      Why should Richard Bruton think the experience would be any different if he ever became leader? Also people seem to forget that Richard does not have any interest in the nuts and bolts of how a party operates so we’d have the same as when his brother was leader – he’d spend his time having well meaning and no dobut worthy debates and deep philosopical discussions while the party structure went to rack and ruin and then shock-horror find it’s in no fit state to fight an election when Bruton II comes down from the ivory tower of academia.

      The wider issue is that Irish people use Enda Kenny and Fine Gael by extention as an excuse to never face up to their own responsibility for the mess the country is in. The Church got away with what it did because no one ever shouted stop and the politicians get away with it because Irish people keep voting for them.

      Who in their right mind votes for someone like Willie O’Dea or Martin Cullen or Mary Coughlan or Beverly Flynn? The same stupid people who will no dobut make sure John O’Donoghue tops the poll next time.

      To avoid facing the fact they are to blame for the situation, they instead say, ‘Oh that Enda Kenny is useless so I have no choice but to vote for FF’.

      And it doesn’t matter whether Enda Kenny or Richard Bruton is leader of FIne Gael – the debate about the Irish attitude to accountability and the truth is way beyond their remit and involves us as a nation facing up to some very nasty and unpleasant things about us that go right back to Gaelic Ireland and from there through failed rebellions and the famine and up to 1916 and the civil war caused by the ego of one man who couldn’t accept he lost the argument.

      The legacy of his immaturity and the party he created could be nothing but bad and rotten – as we now know. Yet we still refuse to face up to it.

      So please don’t insult my intelligence by claiming Enda Kenny hasn’t proven himself up to the job of leading becaue he clearly has – there is no evidence that his being leader is stopping anyone voting Fine Gael – in fact the contrary and Fine Gael has retained the support it gained in all the elections under Kenny. Also no one quite explains what exactly he is meant to have done that he hasn’t or what rate in the polls FG should be at.

      Given 25% at the absolute least will vote FF out no matter what but more likely 30%, that leaves at the very minimum 20% for Labour, 10% for SF or GP and that leaves 40% left of which FG has 35% so far – this brings me back to the 25% to 30% who will vote FF – that vote is not about what Enda Kenny or FIne Gael hasn’t done, it’s about what the people voting FF refuse to do – i.e. face up to the consequences of their actions and as I said that’s a far deeper issue about the Irish people.

    • Deaglán says:

      Great rant, Desmond. Best exposition I have read of what Fine Gael is all about. You should be a speechwriter for Enda Kenny. Or else they should run you in Dublin South. You’re a True Blue!

    • kynos says:

      Dermot Ahern could be a dark horse though. His knife may yet be sticking out of Lenihan’s toga and Dermo slipping out from behind the arras with the purloined laurels….we are talking FF. Nothing is as it seems and the watchword is Devious.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      All in good time Deaglán.

      It’ll soon be time for another FitzGerald to ride to the rescue of party and country and I wasn’t given the name of Desmond for nothing!

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      @9: If that’s your ambition you might want to learn some humility. Referring to the ‘Plain People of Ireland’ as thick (and variations thereof) undiscriminating apparatchiks (you don’t actually use that exact term but that is the gist of your slur) is not very ‘politic’ and unlikely to win you many votes, or indeed favour with the oleaginous Party hacks,unless you are relying solely on the Civil War factor. You may just find that the electorate are little more discerning than you give them credit for and as you’re no doubt aware the Irish body politic does not forgive or forget very readily. I certainly wouldn’t vote for anyone with such an arrogant high handed cavalier opinion either of himself or the electorate.

    • kynos says:

      Can I say a think about George Lee &c.? The commander in the field, once he has his orders, doesn’t have to brook any further interference from the sovereign that’s a principle 5000 years old. There’s always the Nuclear Vote. That says more about what the voter thinks about the matter they’re voting on. It totally destroys their ability to further influence affairs within the so-called inescapable framework of party politics, interalia, at least partially and/or for the medium to long term perhaps totally too. But as a message to their constituents and the wider polity, it contains more information and has a longer range than any other vote they may take in context of the matter they are voting on.

    • kynos says:

      Maybe it’ll come down to a fight between Cullen Hanafin and Martin as to who goes for BIFFO’s replacement in advance of the next election. Who knows? It’s fun to watch them [turn on themselves].

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      kynos: you missed you opportunity to showcase your multilingual skills ‘by’….’Beijing Irish’ (puntastic! by the way) on Ultach’s site…there’s a challenge… how about posting an Irish/Chinese comment with subtitles for the monolingual amongst us…or maybe it’s just me…Now I’ve often thought I might have a bit of Chinese in me…


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