Greens rotating the crop
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.