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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 3, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

    Greens rotating the crop

    Harry McGee

    If John Gormley stands down as Minister for the Environment and as party leader to honour a rotation agreement brokered two years ago, it’s not going to do the Greens much good.

    In fairness to Ciaran Cuffe, he’s very knowledgable and very well briefed, knows climate change inside out, and is also authoritative on justice and environment.

    There are some suggestions that the 2007 deal would see him taking on both the leadership of the part and the senior ministry. Whatever about his claims to a ministry, becoming leader is a different matter. Gormley has proved himself adept but it has taken him some time. We would only know if Cuffe had the wherewithal once he was in position. And that, to my mind, is a gamble.

    If Gormley remained as leader, leading the party from the backbenches would also be a problem. There is a likelihood that he would be shorn of all authority with commentators and others looking to one of the Ministers to provide authority.

    Perhaps, if the party scored a super junior job for Gormley that would allow him to remain in Cabinet, that might work for everybody. I’d be surprised to see Cowen concede that to the Greens, given that they were instrumental in dropping the number of juniors from 20 to 13. Besides the loose arrangement over a junior was a Bertie deal. Cowen has all but disowned it, according to those privvy to past discussions on this.

    A lot of things sounded good when the Greens were going into Government in 2007. The Greens in Germany had done something similar, putting its policies about personality. But Ireland is smaller, more intimate, than Germany. Personality matters more here, for better or for worse. The Greens tried for years to be a political party without a leader. It didn’t work, paving the way for Trevor Sargent to become its first leader. Similarly, a backbench leader or a new unproven leader will not work.

    The party will also have to counter negative publicity about ‘jobs for the boys’.

    Arguably, it hasn’t worked for Sinn Fein in the South either. Gerry Adams isn’t really the leader for the South. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin is its Dáil leader but isn’t a figurehead. Its chosen leader for the South, Mary Lou McDonald has no mandate at present. Hence, the trouble it has.

    My own guess. Gormley will step in and say there is no deal. The rotation agreement will be allowed to rotate itself out.

    • JD says:

      My honest perception is that the government parties have not had their eye on the ball for weeks on end and it has been all personality-centric “blah, blah, blah” stories dominating the news agenda and political debate.

      The NAMA valuations are a massive story, Recapitaling the banks is a massive story. Keeping businesses open and people in jobs are massive stories. Weak exchequer figures are a massive story.

      To all concerned, enough of the lightweight focus on meaningless intrigue please. “Its the economy, stupid.”

      Therefore, if the government parties cannot get on with it, then they should get out of it. After all, that is the only reshuffle that most people want right now.

    • Michael says:

      If such a deal existed to rotate either the ministries or the leadership of the party, why is it secret?

      Surely the public have a right to know if there was a deal on rotating ministries as part of the programme for government. And if there was a deal to rotate the party leadership, then surely the Green party members who elected John Gormley to that position have a right to know about such a deal?

      On a complete side note, wouldn’t it be nice to see Dan Boyle as a super-junior minister with responsibility for Public Service reform? I know it would probably never happen, but as the Green PP member most clued in on finance and as the FF skeptic voice then in such a position he could be of benefit to both the country and his party.

    • Séin says:


      A pedantic and small point. Are there not 15 Ministers of State? Granted, that two of these sit at cabinet, that would allow for 13 “ordinary” juniors.


    • Séin says:


      I thought there were 15 Ministers of State, or do you count the two “super juniors” as Cabinet members? A small, but pedantic point, I know…


    • barbera says:

      This rotation business has set in motion a whole new merry-go-round for political spinning. I think John Gormley should remain firmly in place as leader of the Green Party. Along with his counterpart in FF, he has patiently toughed out what has been a very difficult period (ongoing) in world/national politics — given the global financial crisis, which has tended to manifest itself differently according to the particularities of whatever country is affected. And now that, shall we say, awkward elements have been removed from the Greens, Mr Gormley is looking pretty solid, imho. Calm in the face of adversity — that is what I like in a leader and it is not least on account of Mr Gormley’s steady input that a certain stasis (as Deaglán put it a few blogs ago) is becoming apparent in the public mood. Steady now, no rotation and scratch that carousel. Mr Gormley has arrived.
      If I were going to change anything, I would change the “Green” part of Green Party to something less easy to make senseless ridicule of.

    • Lie says:

      @ Michael
      Whatever about the current green ministers in the Dail, it is the last place I would want to see Dan Boyle. I believe he been rejected twice by the people of Cork.
      1st for the Dail and 2nd time for Europe.
      Any why would we want to see him over public sector reform? Imagine how we would hear about changes to public sector, through his tweets !!

    • Harry says:

      Sorry, that’s my mistake. 15 juniors including two, Pat Carey and Barry Andrews, with seats at the Cabinet table. Cowen got rid of seven or eight and then appointed a few last year. The reduction of seven stuck in my mind when I was tapping out blog earlier.

    • tony says:

      I love Barbara’s ‘global financial crisis’. Where has she been living? The financial crisis here has been caused by our own politicos and bankos all on their own. They are now trying to keep it behind closed doors. The plebs are supposed to shut up and put up and maintain ‘a certain stasis in the public mood’. If Barbara thinks we are all total idiots she has another think coming.

    • Thomas says:

      Here we see the calamity that is the current Green Party of Ireland.
      The dissolution of this party is just as sure as the failure of the NAMA con
      With the Green personalities grappling for top jobs, we are way past unseemly.
      The Irish public will not be in such a hurry to reward these self-interested individuals
      They have damaged the Green agenda for at least a generation because of their betrayal
      f the sound moral principles they once professed

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Let me get this right. Gormless will resign just as he qualifies for a pension and just before he has to deal with the Ringsend issue. Then if Cuffe is a Minister and the government lasts he too will get a pension.

      Sargent resigns for interfering in a criminal case because it was ‘wrong’ yet he remains as a TD. So it’s ok for a TD to interfere with a criminal case. He of course gets a huge pay off and pension. Claiming he gave it to charity doesn’t justify getting it in the first place.

      Dan Boyle has been rejected about 4 times now by whatever version of the electorate he stands before and yet he pronounces on all manner of things as if he has a mandate from the people.

      The Greens claim not to take corporate donations and because they don’t, that’s ok while it’s anyone’s guess as to where and from whom FF takes money. So somehow by looking the other way, the Greens are being honest!

      In many ways the Greens are worse than FF because they are complete hypocrites. We know what FF are and have always been. We know that and the issue is rather why, despite knowing this, such a large section of Irish people still vote for that sort of politician and what that says about Irish people – as much as what it says about FF.

      However, the Greens had 20 years to hone their craft and to know what they wanted to do in power – and even with a crashed and burnt economy they could still have pushed through reforms in so many ways that require little money. Yet they refuse to do so because they are too scared it might cause an election.

      Yet ironicially it is at exact fear of an election being greater within FF that gives the Greens even more power.

      If the Greens won’t use that leverage to change things then why bother being in government in the first place – doing nothing.

      So much for Green ethics.

      However, it seems no matter when the election is – now or in 2012 – both parties have had their day.

    • Lenny says:

      “Cuffe knows climate change inside out”. So he’ll know it’s a load of crap then, yeah? He’ll know it’s a cynical money racket dreamed up by whacko tree-huggers and hijacked by carbon-trading bloodsucker money-men and has-been politicians. In the words of that great statesman, Gordon Brown: We have 100 days to save the planet! What a laugh.
      As we emerge from the coldest winter since 1963, the only people left in Ireland who still blindly worship in The Cult of Global Warming are the Green Party and their clueless supporters in the left/liberal media. But then I suppose they would say I’m a “climate change denier”. Twats.

    • bobtipp says:

      just one question.if they do change ministers will both of them be entitled to a minister’s pension?

    • Gormless John says:

      Don’t think it matters too much either way what the Green party does or doesn’t do now, they’re going to disappear from the political arena soon enough. If the party wanted to redeem itself at all, it would pull out of government immediately. However, it too buys into the fantasy of the economic recovery within the lifetime of the current Dáil, thus the logic is to stay in there at all costs.

      I do have to smile at the rants of climate change denier Lenny, who seems incapable of distinguishing between a single cold weather event in part of the northern hemisphere and long term global climate trends. What is even funnier is his idea it is all part of a Green party conspiracy. Of course it stands to reason the Irish greens were all so busy putting ‘sleepers’ into thousands of prominent positions within the scientific community decades ago, infiltrating governments and pouring antifreeze on the icecaps, they overlooked figuring out a strategy for what to do if they ever got elected.

      Well the last bit is true.

    • Solenoid says:

      Crop Rotation is Usually A Good Idea…

      On a personal level, I have to say that I agree with the last poster: the best course of action for the country would probably be if the GP left government as soon as possible and gave Fianna Fáil a well-needed break from maligning the country. However, until they find a suitable justification for doing so they are likely to trundle on, propping up the unpleasant spectacle of “socialism for the super-rich”.

      That being the case the very least they might demand, given that the future of coalition rests entirely with them, is that the party take the post of Tánaiste (and assume the responsibilities that implies) and be given a new super-junior position with a seat at cabinet.

      And whatever else it is and regardless of who gets the job, the super-junior role should not be a meaningless political sop.

      There has been a lot of talk about “green jobs” and the “knowledge economy” and mostly this has amounted to what the Americans euphemistically call BS, and costly BS at that. However, high-tech, low density industry is the only way to develop the economy in a direction that can be sustained when the last of our beloved benefactors, the multi-nationals, have fled for sweeter tax breaks and cheaper labour elsewhere.

      Creating such a self-sustaining, internationally competitive sector would be no mean feat and it is a process that is unlikely to be completed in the lifetime of this government. Nonetheless, a good start could be made sooner rather than later. Is it possible to co-ordinate broadband “roll out”, technology education & re-training and enterprise funding, for example, in a way that is coherent, considered and actually has a logical objective?

      Development funding was squandered hideously during the boom by those who often didn’t understand the technology they were investing in, or understand that it could have a purpose beyond the large (now emptying) corporate parks in suburbia.

      A Minister of State with responsibility for Innovation and Development who actually knew what he was doing would be a step in the right direction.

      While I respect the right of the IT editors to air their opinions on whatever issues tickle their fancy, (and on this one they clearly agree with you, Harry) I believe they are profoundly wrong to suggest that job-rotation would be hurtful to the government’s effectiveness (isn’t that an oxymoron anyway?).

      After 3 years navigating the Sir Humphreys of the civil service either Gormley or Ryan should be well-placed to mentor a newcomer in their former role, while also sufficiently experienced to take up a more challenging job, such as the one I suggested above. In fact, if it’s not taken up by Gormley or Ryan, the super-junior role almost certainly will be meaningless… and that would be another wasted opportunity (and we’ve had enough of those already).

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