EU job failure led to de Búrca move

Tue, Feb 16, 2010, 00:00

GREEN PARTY senator Déirdre de Búrca has said that her failure to get a job in Brussels was a trigger for her resignation from the Seanad but was not the cause of her decision.

“The focus on the Brussels job distracts from significant events within the parliamentary party which reflected my growing concern at the kind of decisions that we were continuing to support in Government, and the treatment that we appeared willing to put up with from our Government partners in order to stay in Government,” she said in a statement yesterday.

She said that one inaccurate claim that has been made publicly about her resignation was that the Greens had agreed only to lobby on her behalf with Brian Cowen in relation to a position in Máire Geoghegan-Quinn’s new cabinet.

“In fact, John Gormley told me clearly that he had negotiated a position for a Green in her new cabinet as a basic condition of Green Party support for her nomination.

“The Green Party had favoured Pat Cox for the position of commissioner, and the two Green Ministers actively lobbied Brian Cowen to have him nominated for the post.

“However, Fianna Fáil was insistent that one of their own be nominated, and favoured Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

“The Green Party eventually agreed to support her nomination subject to the condition that there be a position for a Green in her cabinet.

“I queried John Gormley at the time as to whether this was not a decision that the new commissioner-designate herself would have to make. John told me that Brian Cowen had telephoned Máire Geoghegan-Quinn last November and made her aware of this condition before she was officially nominated.”

Ms de Búrca said that any suggestion that the party had merely agreed to lobby Brian Cowen for her in relation to the position was therefore misleading.

She said the subsequent news that the research and innovation portfolio had been assigned to the Irish commissioner was welcome to her as a Green presence in the cabinet would have been valuable.

“It is indicative of the weakness of the Green Party’s position in Government at present that, given the opportunity to influence the momentum in the EU towards a greener low-carbon European economy, my party allowed itself to be ‘shafted’ (to quote John Gormley).

“It indicates a particular attitude towards green policies that became very familiar in dealing with our Government partners in Leinster House. I regret that John Gormley seems willing to allow the party to be so regularly outmanoeuvred . . . rather than asserting the interests of the Green Party and its constituency.”

She said that Mr Gormley had told her that Fianna Fáil was willing to offer her a position as chef de cabinet in the European Court of Auditors.

“I turned the position down on the basis that I do not believe I have the necessary skills or experience to carry out the important work of ensuring that the EU budget is correctly implemented.

“I was offered this position on several occasions. I made it clear to the Green Party and Fianna Fáil that I was not looking for a ‘plum’ and well-paid job in Brussels but rather that I genuinely want to make a serious contribution to ensuring that the European Union leads the way internationally towards a more sustainable and responsible way of living on the planet.”