Former AG was hostile to Greens, claims book

Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 01:00

THE GREEN Party came to believe that then attorney general Paul Gallagher was as much an obstacle to its policy proposals as coalition partner Fianna Fáil was during its time in government.

A new book on the Greens in government by its former TD and senator Dan Boyle claims that some of the party’s priority legislation was unduly delayed because of objections raised by Mr Gallagher, a senior counsel, appointed to the position when the government was formed in 2007.

In Without Power or Glory Mr Boyle, who was then the party’s chairman, reveals what the Greens considered a frustratingly slow pace of policy implementation and getting their priority Bills enacted.

He also gives a detailed chronology of how the good relationship between both parties in the initial period in government deteriorated badly as the economic crisis worsened during 2010.

He notes that the party eventually came to the view that it had made a mistake in not asking more questions about Mr Gallagher’s appointment in 2007. He also believes Green Party proposals were subjected to greater scrutiny that those emanating from Fianna Fáil.

However, another senior Green source disagreed with Mr Boyle’s view. The source said Mr Gallagher was very supportive of key Green legislation.

“I just did not get the sense that he was obstructive,” said the source.

Mr Gallagher, as a former government law officer, is precluded from commenting on his term as attorney general.

Mr Boyle has set out his views clearly: “At cabinet level, we were coming up against a further obstacle in the form of the attorney general Paul Gallagher. We weren’t aware of him prior to his appointment but he seems to have been highly regarded in the Law Library. His legal philosophy appeared to be very conservative. To us, it looked as if a greater level of scrutiny was applied to proposed legislation when it emanated from a Green Party source at cabinet than when it came from another source, with additional reasons often being found as to why such legislation should be proceeded with at a slower pace, if it was proceeded with at all.

“The hair-dragging that this constant prevarication brought out in us reminded me of a piece of advice offered by a [senior Green figure]: that the most important cabinet position that the party should seek should be that of attorney general. It was another lesson . . . painfully learned.”

According to the former TD for Cork South Central, the party’s attempts to expedite a number of key Bills were frustrated because of legal issues. He instanced the Civil Partnership Bill, the Corporate Donations Bill and Climate Change legislation.