Greens silent on de Búrca claim FF failed to honour deal

Tue, Feb 16, 2010, 00:00

THE GREEN Party leadership has refused to comment on former senator Déirdre de Búrca’s claim that her resignation was caused by the failure of Fianna Fáil to honour a commitment to her party rather than her personal disappointment at not getting a post in Brussels.

She revealed that Fianna Fáil had offered her a senior position on the EU Court of Auditors but she had turned it down as she did not feel she had the skills or experience for the job.

In a statement yesterday Ms de Búrca revealed that the two Green Party Ministers had actively lobbied Taoiseach Brian Cowen in favour of Pat Cox’s appointment as EU commissioner.

They were persuaded, however, to support Máire Geoghegan-Quinn on condition that a Green would be appointed to her cabinet.

A spokesman for John Gormley said last night that the Green Party had no comment to make on the former senator’s statement.

Mr Cox said Ms de Búrca’s disclosure was news to him.

“Nobody in Government, Fianna Fáil or Green, ever explicitly expressed to myself that I enjoyed their support for the nomination,” he said.

Ms de Búrca, who is still a member of the Greens, said she wanted to put the record straight about a number of inaccurate claims that had been made since her resignation from the Seanad last Friday.

She said one of the inaccurate claims that had been made about her was that the Greens had only agreed to lobby on her behalf with the Taoiseach in relation to a position in Ms Geoghegan-Quinn’s 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 Ms 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,” said Ms de Búrca.

Ms de Búrca added that the news that the research and innovation portfolio had been assigned to the Irish commissioner was very welcome to her as a Green presence would have been valuable.

“I regret that John Gormley seems willing to allow the party to be so regularly outmanoeuvred in this way in the interests of remaining in Government, rather than asserting the interests of the Green Party and its constituency,” she said.

Ms de Búrca added 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 but she had turned it down as she did not feel she had the necessary skills or experience.

“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.”

Ms de Búrca said the focus on the Brussels job was a distraction from significant events within the parliamentary party which reflected her growing concern at the kind of decisions they were supporting in Government and the treatment they appeared willing to put up with from their Coalition partners.

She said that she had absented herself from a vote on the Defamation Bill last summer and was “sharply chastised” at a subsequent parliamentary party meeting.

“I was also put under strong pressure to support the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill.

“Eventually Senator Dan Boyle and I failed to support the Government on the final votes on that Bill,” she said.

“This was because we were deeply unhappy with the way in which the Minister for Justice had dealt with the Green Party’s input to the legislation.”