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Saturday 22 July 2017

Gormley hits out at scathing attack on his record

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE latest high-profile Green member to abandon the party resigned yesterday after the leadership failed to secure a plum job for her in Europe.

In scathing resignation letter, former senator Deirdre de Burca accused leader John Gormley of doing the party a disservice, being afraid to stand up to Taoiseach Brian Cowen and essentially being a Fianna Fail puppet.

But the party swung back against Ms de Burca last night, with Mr Gormley dismissing her claims as "without foundation" and other Green sources rubbishing her electoral record.

She resigned from the Senate, where she was appointed as a Taoiseach's nominee, and from the Green Party.

"She wasn't a good candidate, she never has been," a party source said last night.

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan admitted both he and Mr Gormley had lobbied for Ms de Burca to be given a job in new EU commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn's cabinet.

Former leader Trevor Sargent also said she was interested in the €120,000 post and added that Mr Cowen had lobbied unsuccessfully on her behalf. Mr Gormley said Ms de Burca's opinions were a matter for her but described the claims as unfounded.

"It's entirely without foundation and you have to look at what we're implementing," he said.

"It's up to the party members to judge that on the facts. And the facts are very strong, they are saying we are doing a good job."

Ms de Burca had previously said fellow ex-Green Patricia McKenna had taken the easy way out by leaving while tough decisions were being made in Government.

Despite coming from Wicklow, she ran in the Dublin constituency in last year's Euro elections, but finished behind Ms McKenna after polling just 4.7pc of the first preference votes. Ms de Burca is believed to have spent €100,000 on the failed campaign.

Mr Ryan said the Greens had known that she wanted to pursue a different career. She becomes the latest Green to leave, following three councillors who have resigned in the past 18 months.

"We know that she has had a wish to move on in her career but certainly we wish her well," he said.

In a biting letter released yesterday morning, Ms de Burca said Fianna Fail was running rings around the Greens.

"Any suggestion that we challenge Fianna Fail, or face it down over important issues, seems to bring up a great fear in us that we will have to leave government," she said.

Issues

"Despite the fact that you have been asked on many occasions over the past few months by the parliamentary party to take a stronger line with Brian Cowen and the Fianna Fail party in relation to certain core issues, you have clearly been unable, or unwilling, to do so," she told Mr Gormley.

Mr Ryan said that the party was always asking its leader to take a stronger line with the Taoiseach, but did not agree that they were being walked over in Government.

Ms de Burca told Mr Gormley that he had done a disservice to the Green Party by allowing a "drift" to occur.

Tanaiste Mary Coughlan said that the coalition was working well and described Ms de Burca's resignation as an internal matter for the Greens.

Irish Independent

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