Taoiseach tries to shift blame away from the Greens
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen yesterday insisted relations with the Green Party were "excellent", despite claims by former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea that they forced him out.
Social Welfare Minister Mary Hanafin also denied the embattled Defence Minister was "pushed" from the cabinet table.
Mr Cowen denied that Fianna Fail backbenchers were resentful towards the Green Party for "taking Willie O'Dea out".
"I don't think they think that at all frankly. What you have to understand is that Willie O'Dea himself had indicated to me he was considering his position in the light of developments and that he was anxious not to become the focus of attention and distract from the work of Government," he said.
Mr Cowen made a clear attempt to shift the blame away from the Green Party, whose leader John Gormley had told him that Mr O'Dea's position was untenable.
He denied he had been forced to backtrack on his previous vote of confidence in Mr O'Dea just 24 hours earlier.
Mr Cowen said Mr O'Dea had contacted his office to say he was available to do "whatever I felt was necessary in the circumstances" in the wake of his RTE 'News at One' interview.
"I wanted to give him time and space to do that, to consult with colleagues and to listen to what people had to say."
He said he had met Mr Gormley "later that evening" -- after Mr O'Dea's resignation offer.
When asked why he had not rejected Mr O'Dea's resignation offer, Mr Cowen said: "I felt the regrettable conclusion he came to was one I think I would subscribe to in the circumstance."