Eamon Ryan ‘tells Greens’ no pact on supporting Coalition candidates for Seanad

Motion of no confidence is tabled in Hazel Chu after she announced she would run in election as an Independent

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan told a private meeting of his TDs and Senators there is no formal Seanad elections pact with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, sources in the party have claimed.

Mr Ryan is said to have confirmed this during last night's fraught parliamentary party meeting where a motion of no confidence was tabled in Green Party chairman and Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu after she announced she would run in the Seanad election as an Independent.

The Irish Times has also learned deputy leader Catherine Martin and Bláithín Gallagher, chairwoman of the party's executive committee, called for the motion – tabled by Senators Pippa Hackett, Pauline O'Reilly and Róisín Garvey – to be withdrawn.

Sources said Ms Gallagher also told last night’s meeting that Mr Ryan had told the executive committee in recent weeks that there is no pact with the other coalition parties related to the Seanad election.


Mr Ryan is said to have agreed this is the case at last night’s meeting.

The Irish Times has sought a comment from Mr Ryan, but he has not immediately responded.

One of the senators involved in the motion of no confidence in Ms Chu was asked about a claim made by the Lord Mayor yesterday that that there is no pact on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Claire Byrne Show.

Ms O’Reilly said: “I think it’s not correct to say that there’s no pact. If you call a spade a spade, we’re in Government, that’s a pact. There are two candidates. Those candidates are Fianna Fáil on one panel and Fine Gael on the other panel.”

Asked by the presenter if it was an unspoken agreement, Ms O’Reilly said: “It was made very clear by the leader on numerous occasions that the expectation was that we would be supporting [Government] people.”

She said Mr Ryan said that “a couple of times over the last few weeks”.

“In any case if there is a Government candidate you don’t start running up against the Government candidate,” she added.

Another Green Party source dismissed the significance of the issue, saying that recent discussion in the party about the Seanad elections were in the context of an understanding that if the Greens were not putting forward a candidate, they would support the names put forward by their Coalition partners.

The source said the view during discussions was if the Green Party supported the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael candidates now, the other Government parties would support a Green candidate if another vacancy arises in the Seanad during the current Government.

Ms O’Reilly said during the radio interview that she did not think it i s appropriate for Ms Chu to “to run as an Independent candidate and also to be a chair of a party that’s in government and is supporting Government candidates”.

She said she believes Ms Chu should resign as party chairwoman but also that she herself suggested deferring the motion of no confidence to allow more time to discuss it.

The presenter, Ms Byrne, read out a statement from Ms Chu where the Lord Mayor said she is “very disappointed that Senator O’Reilly has chosen this avenue to express her unhappiness about me”.

Ms Chu’s statement adds: “After not being informed of a motion of no confidence in me the agenda was sent on only an hour before. I was not told by any members of the parliamentary party proposing the motion including the leader who I spoke to hours before.”

Her statement also claimed: “The leader made it explicitly clear on several occasions that there was no pact”, and she said she has not broken any party rules.

Ms O’Reilly said she heard Ms Chu on the same show yesterday and saw coverage of her press conference launching her campaign.

“A lot of this unfortunately has come through the media, and therefore it’s not really reasonable to say some people can say whatever they like in the media and other people should just say it quietly behind closed doors.”

She said: “Unfortunately it has taken this turn where I have ended up having to explain myself. I would rather not. I would rather have done it internally . . . . But obviously I’m going to give my opinion because I’m a politician.”

Asked about Ms Chu’s insistence she has broken no rules, Ms O’Reilly said: “I don’t think that is a matter for me to decide that” but added “if it was me I would consider whether it is appropriate to run as an Independent and say that you’re going to effectively be a government person when you’re elected, to vote along government lines and then also to be the chair of a party.

“Unfortunately it is making it really divisive for the members in the party who are sending me letters, ringing me and are angry about this,” Mr O’Reilly said.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times