independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Greens unleash their mean machine then cosy up to partners

It was a lovely day for a stroll in the park. Thanks to all the recent rain, Merrion Square was looking particularly verdant in the sunshine yesterday morning, making it the ideal setting in which to launch the Government's shiny new task force on the Green Economy, and its new chairman, Joe Harford.

And given all the rumblings about rifts, splits, discontent or protracted sulking between the two coalition parties, it was also an ideal opportunity to send out a Green minister and a Fianna Fail minister to publicly make sweet music together for the benefit of the vigilant media.

And so political partners Eamon Ryan and Mary Coughlan -- surely the Ken and Barbie of Leinster House -- smiled and posed happily for the photographers who instructed the pair of them to walk together along the path.

"Is this the wedding photograph?" giggled Mary. "More a renewal of vows," reckoned one snapper.

It was all very jolly. And the Tanaiste was adamant that the Good Ship Government wasn't steaming towards any rocks.

"I think it's important to say that this Government has worked very well," she insisted.

"Myself and Eamon have worked together considerably well and we're dealing very much on the energy issue together," she reassured everyone. Phew.

Eamon was equally keen to stress that the Greens weren't getting skittish over being harnessed to a deeply unpopular Fianna Fail party.

"The ESRI said that the budgetary decisions, while hard, were going in the right direction, and that the banking recovery, while not easy, not without risks, is again the right thing to do," he explained happily.

It was all much better-humoured than the Green press conference earlier in the day to launch the party's European election manifesto. Sometimes the Greens truly are the folks who put the word touchy into touchy-feely.

Ireland South candidate Dan Boyle was giving out about fellow senator and rival Labour candidate Alan Kelly, and deploring his voting record in the Seanad.

"His votes for this year is nine out of 55, and his number of debate contributions are, I think, a single hand-count," he sniped. And Dan, who has hit the headlines of late for the various fighting stances he has taken against the Greens' coalition partners, denied he was merely throwing shapes for the election.

"If you don't in an election campaign set out your stall as a candidate and as a representative of a political party, when exactly do you do it?" he said feistily.

Not to be outgunned, Dublin Euro candidate Deirdre De Burca took pops at both Patricia McKenna and Mary-Lou McDonald. Patricia "is not a Green Party candidate. She differs very fundamentally in the attitude of most Green Party members to the European Union. Patricia has traditionally been quite sceptical and critical of the European Union".

And Deirdre was equally dismissive of the Sinn Fein candidate for Dublin. "If anybody thinks that voting 'No' for the Lisbon Treaty has been good for the interests of this country than certainly I suppose they should vote for Mary-Lou," she sniffed.

John Gormley got on the highest horse of all when a mischief-making reporter informed him that Labour's Eamon Gilmore was giving out yards in the Dail chamber about the fact that in the Green manifesto launch coincided with the morning's Order of Business.

"It brings the Green Party ministers' disregard for this House to a new level of contempt," needled Eamon.

John Gormley's hackles rose. "Last night I didn't see Eamon Gilmore, I didn't see Enda Kenny when the vote was taken on their own private members business," he snorted. "So, look, it's just nonsense."

But his annoyance was making him a bit muddled. "They're in the middle of an election campaign, I'm in the middle of an election campaign, and by the way, if there is a vote, I'll be up and I'll vote," he insisted a little incoherently. "And my voting record is better than theirs!" he added with a flourish.

That told them.

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