FF lashes out at Greens for forcing early trip to the polls
GREEN Party ministers got a roasting from their Fianna Fail colleagues at a stormy cabinet meeting yesterday after forcing an early general election.
Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe, a close ally of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, led the charge against ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan, and was joined by a number of other Fianna Fail ministers.
The row followed the decision of the Green ministers to sit at Cabinet on Sunday and decide on the Government applying to the EU and IMF for the rescue package -- when they knew the party would propose to walk out of Government next year the following morning.
Rounding on the two Greens, Mr O'Keeffe said their move to call for a general election in January next year had damaged the international reputation of Ireland and caused instability.
Most of all, Mr O'Keeffe said the Greens had "usurped" the right of the Taoiseach to decide when a general election should be called.
"They got a fair auld bollocking from a good few," a government source said.
A Green source said that naturally there was "some tetchiness" within the Coalition.
But Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin publicly lashed out at the Greens, questioning if they had the interests of the country in mind in their call for a general election early next year.
"I'm very annoyed by it. I'm not sure they've shown they have the best interest about the stability of the country at heart. But we will just work with them now over the next couple of months," she said.
Ms Hanafin denied Fianna Fail was reluctant to continue in Government with the Greens.
"No. It's bigger than the Green Party, it's bigger than Fianna Fail and it's bigger than the Government. This is about Ireland. We will work with whoever we need to work with to get this through. If that also means working with the opposition to get the Budget through then that's what has to be done," she said.
Defending his party's decision, Green Party Senator Dan Boyle said it was taken "after long consideration".
"We consider it a renegotiation of the programme for Government in terms of what we have agreed, but we have now put a time limit upon it. This is a Government with a finite existence based on passing the most important elements left in its life -- the Finance Bill, a four-year programme and negotiations with bodies such as the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank," he said.