John discovers hell hath no fury like an ambitious woman scorned
Published 13/02/2010 | 05:00
AND so the week ended as it had begun -- with the shock resignation of a politician. But senator Deirdre de Burca is no George Lee.
Unlike the Fine Gael superstar, Deirdre had not swept into Leinster House on a wave of adulation. She had failed to take a seat in Wicklow during the 2002 and 2007 general elections and also failed in her bid for a Dublin seat in the European elections last year.
And although she had lasted a lot longer than George in Leinster House, having put in 18 months in the Seanad, it wasn't her departure that caused the shockwaves, but the manner in which she announced it. Her devastating missive, which she posted on her website around 9.30am yesterday, proved that truly hell hath no fury like an ambitious woman scorned.
As Dear John letters go, Deirdre's sayonara screed to her party leader was a classic.
First, it was a bolt from the blue, as all good goodbye notes should be. Yes, the party brass later admitted they knew she was discontented within the relationship, but they hadn't realised that it had gone so sour.
And it was a letter filled with devastating criticism of both the Green Party and -- most damningly -- of John Gormley.
The Green wagons were circled at high speed. At 12.30pm, Communications Minister Eamon Ryan strode on to the plinth closely shadowed by deputies Mary White, Ciaran Cuffe and Paul Gogarty.
They had just come from a meeting (they're very fond of meetings, but more of that anon) and were determined to take the old showbiz approach of 'the show must go on'.
The minister was his usual relentlessly upbeat self. "I regret her decision and I wish her well," he began, before adding, "I don't agree with her letter."
And he refuted one of the more stinging swipes in Deirdre's letter -- that John was unable to stand up to the Taoiseach, claiming he was either "unable" or "unwilling" to "take a stronger line with Brian Cowen and Fianna Fail".
Eamon was having none of it. "I don't agree with that -- a strong line is what we take," he stated unequivocally.
He was doing well -- until he was asked about Deirdre's assertion that the parliamentary party had meetings almost every day to figure out how to stop being bigfooted by Fianna Fail. Does the party have almost daily meetings?
"We have," affirmed Eamon, at the same moment as Ciaran jumped in. "No, we haven't. We meet every Wednesday at six o'clock," explained Ciaran.
The media cackled as a crestfallen Eamon hastily backtracked. "We meet here every day. We meet here in the corridors, we meet in the canteen, we meet in the meeting-room," he gabbled.
"It's a tough time in government. You have to keep in touch, so, ehh . . ." he trailed off.
But it's no wonder he got confused. The Green Party throws meetings at the drop of a carrot and talk through every decision with their members in a manner that fills their coalition partners with a mixture of wonderment and trepidation.
It always adds a whiff of unpredictability to the party, with TDs and senators seemingly free to moan, carp and criticise the party's decisions.
Fianna Fail won't be enjoying this potentially destabilising departure with the same glee as they've watched the George Lee drama. But there's no doubt that whatever about confusion over meetings, the party had taken the decision not to pile mob-handed into Deirdre in the same fashion that some members of Fine Gael got stuck into George earlier this week.
John backed away from confrontation completely, worrying Deirdre with all the savagery of an organic dead sheep.
The manner in which Deirdre left the Greens was clear enough, but the whole reason may need further explanation from her, whenever she chooses to surface over the weekend. It may be the start of a tempest, or it may be a storm in a teacup.
With the Greens, you just never know.