Brian Leddin will not be sanctioned by Green Party over comment about female councillor

TD apologised at the weekend for ‘inappropriate’ remark in WhatsApp group

Green Party TD Brian Leddin.

Green Party TD Brian Leddin.

 

Green Party TD Brian Leddin will not be sanctioned by the party over the contents of a WhatsApp group in which he made an “inappropriate” comment about a female councillor.

Mr Leddin apologised last weekend after he described Independent councillor Elisa O’Donovan in a WhatsApp group a couple of years ago as “unhinged” and “craving fame”.

A number of other offensive comments were made about Ms O’Donovan by other members of the WhatsApp group.

Mr Leddin, the chair of the Oireachtas environment and climate action committee, said last weekend he did not encourage those comments or engage with them, but on reflection should have intervened to voice his unhappiness with the language used.

The Limerick City TD appeared before the executive committee of the Green Party on Monday night to discuss what had happened.

On foot of the meeting, sources said his apology will be accepted and he will not be formally sanctioned. While senior party figures believe he was wrong to use the language he used in the group, it will not be taken further.

“The matter was discussed by the party’s executive committee yesterday. The party takes these matters extremely seriously, and reiterates our commitment to inclusive, respectful and positive politics,” the executive committee said in a message to party members.

“Deputy Leddin has apologised, saying that he does not condone the inappropriate posts in a WhatsApp group and has expressed his regret at not intervening [in relation to comments by others in the group].

“In line with our values as a party, we would like to ensure that all of our members, officers, and elected representatives feel empowered to act as allies and challenge non-inclusive behaviour.

“Since 2020, the party has had an ongoing dignity and respect training programme, as part of a wider inclusion plan. The party will continue to actively work alongside groups such as Women for Election, SHE, and the NWCI [the National Women’s Council of Ireland] to ensure we are doing all we can to support women in politics.”

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said on Monday he had spoken to Mr Leddin “at length” over the contents in the group.

“He has issued an apology, which is correct,” Mr Ryan said, adding that “there is no space for any commentary which is demeaning to a person”.

‘Disappointed’

Ms O’Donovan said that she was “disappointed that a TD and former council colleague spoke about me . . . in this way but I have been so heartened by the support and solidarity that has poured in from women all over Limerick and the country, a great many sharing similar experiences, and hopefully it can be the start of a really important conversation about sexism in politics and professional life in Ireland”.

In a statement over the weekend, the Green Party said it expected all party members and public representatives to speak respectfully to each other.

“These comments from three years ago were taken from a private WhatsApp group that is not affiliated with the Green Party. Personal relationships and comments fall outside of the scope of the party mandate, however, we are cognisant that elected representatives are held to a higher standard of conduct within and outside of their public positions, and this includes the use of appropriate and respectful language.

“Deputy Leddin has stated that he left the now defunct WhatsApp group shortly after the use of the abusive and misogynistic language by other members of the group and apologised directly to Ms O’Donovan for his own comment which he acknowledges was inappropriate.”