Green Party expresses confidence in Taoiseach


LEADING GREEN Party figures have expressed confidence in the Taoiseach while refusing to say whether or not they would tolerate another “off day” from Mr Cowen.

Referring to Mr Cowen’s radio performance on Tuesday morning at the Fianna Fáil think-in in Galway for which the Taoiseach apologised, Mr Gormley described it as a “regrettable distraction” and said all politicians had given poor interviews.

“When I use the phrase ‘off day’ I’m saying that we can all have off days. We’ve all had the experience of giving a bad interview now and again, it’s as simple as that. As far as we’re concerned we want to focus on the issues at hand. I think that’s what the Irish people want,” he said.

Speaking at the Green Party think-in in Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, Mr Gormley said the Greens did not know if there were “so-called rumblings” on the Fianna Fáil backbenches about Mr Cowen continuing in his positions of Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader. The Greens were interested in stable government and he did not like “personalised politics” or political gossip, he said. Casting aspersions about whether or not someone was “inebriated” was not helpful.

Mr Gormley said the matter had been discussed at Cabinet and Mr Cowen subsequently apologised to the nation on television. Mr Cowen had “volunteered” to deliver the public apology and the Green Party Ministers had not asked him to do so, he said.

“He apologised for what had occurred, he admitted it was a ‘below-par’ interview and he has said that he meant no disrespect to the Irish people. I accept that. That was what I accepted when he spoke about it at Cabinet and as far as we’re concerned we want to leave the matter there and to focus on the real issues which affect people in their daily lives.”

Asked if he had confidence in Mr Cowen as Taoiseach, Mr Gormley said “Yes” and party chairman Senator Dan Boyle said the party leader was speaking for the entire party.

Minister for Energy, Communications and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan said whatever internal developments might or might not be taking place within Fianna Fáil were a matter for that party.

“Fianna Fáil is Fianna Fáil, we’re the Green Party. Let Fianna Fáil manage its own affairs,” he said. Asked if he had confidence in Mr Cowen, Mr Ryan said: “I do have that confidence.”

Meanwhile, Mr Gormley said commentators were wrong to suggest the Greens would suffer a similar electoral fate to the Progressive Democrats.

He insisted the party would still have seats in the Dáil and whatever the outcome of the next General Election, the movement would continue.

“You have to understand the nature of the Green Party. We’re a party that’s based on a set of beliefs, and regardless of the outcomes of elections we continue,” Mr Gormley said.

“We’re not like the PDs. People make that comparison and it’s misplaced. The PDs were a collection of individuals who had already been in politics and perhaps for their own opportunistic reasons they decided they were going to go their separate ways. That won’t happen with the Green Party.”

Mr Boyle described the party as being “in a constant state of preparedness” for a General Election. Mr Gormley added: “That’s not to say we’re expecting anything anytime soon but that’s just being vigilant as you ought to be.”