Green Party has ‘no space for demeaning’ comments’, Ryan says after TD’s apology

Limerick City TD Brian Leddin described female councillor as ‘unhinged’ in private WhatsApp group

Green Party TD Brian  Leddin apologised for his own ‘inappropriate’ comment, while noting  he did not encourage or engage with other comments in the WhatsApp group.

Green Party TD Brian Leddin apologised for his own ‘inappropriate’ comment, while noting he did not encourage or engage with other comments in the WhatsApp group.

 

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said he has spoken to party TD Brian Leddin “at length” over the contents of a WhatsApp group in which he made an “inappropriate” comment about a female councillor.

Mr Leddin has apologised for comments he made about councillor Elisa O’Donovan after he described her as “unhinged” and “craving fame”. A number of other offensive comments were made about Ms O’Donovan by other members of the group.

Mr Leddin, a Limerick City TD and chair of the Oireachtas Environment and Climate Action Committee, said this weekend that he did not encourage those comments or engage with them but on reflection should have intervened to voice his unhappiness with the language used. He said his own comment was “inappropriate” and that he had since apologised.

The messages first emerged in a report in the Irish Mail on Sunday. When asked on Monday whether Mr Leddin would face any sanctions, Mr Ryan said there were discussions ongoing with the party’s executive structures.

“Brian is going to talk to our own executive and management committee, and I think they will be discussing that, but more immediately the important thing is that he did apologise.”

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

Ms O’Donovan said that she was “disappointed that a TD and former council colleague spoke about me and other women 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.”

Party statement

In a statement over the weekend, the Green Party said it expected all 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.”

The Women for Election Group said on Monday that the political silence on the issue was “deafening”.

Caitriona Gleeson, CEO of the organisation, said the comments were “unacceptable, insulting and wholly inappropriate.”

“Silence when it comes to the debasement of women, or indeed men, is not acceptable and cannot be used to minimise one’s responsibility,” she said. “As an organisation working hard to encourage women to go into politics, it is very disheartening that the type of misogynistic and frankly inciteful language reported on this WhatsApp is still a part of political based discourse.

“Political leadership and courage is needed to stamp out this type of behaviour and thinking and those involved and responsible should really be held to account,” she said. “So far, the response to Deputy Leddin’s actions or perhaps more accurately, inactions, has been muted at best from the political world. This is not really good enough.”