Tuesday 21 November 2017

Green whip not told of Dail vote

Coalition will see out term, says Gormley

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley yesterday claimed his party was not told of the Government's decision to hold an immediate vote of confidence in Defence Minister Willie O'Dea.

Mr Gormley also refused to be drawn on a potential garda probe into former Mr O'Dea's brothel claims, insisting the matter was considered closed.

Speaking at University College Cork (UCC), Mr Gormley and party chairman, Senator Dan Boyle, whose Twitter posts ultimately led to Mr O'Dea's resignation, tried to draw a line under the controversy.

Both men arrived together at the UCC campus -- and insisted Mr O'Dea had done the honourable thing in resigning from Cabinet so as not to distract from the work of Government.

But Senator Boyle admitted that, had a confidence motion arrived before the Seanad over Mr O'Dea, he would not have been able to support it.

He said such a scenario would not have resulted in him quitting the Green Party -- but would have had implications for the parliamentary party.

Mr Gormley said everyone in Government must learn from the controversy -- although he denied that relations between the coalition partners had been seriously damaged.

Senator Boyle said he saw no reason why the Government could not serve out its full term.

Mr Gormley refused to confirm he had personally demanded Mr O'Dea's resignation as the price for the Greens remaining in Government.

"I went to the Taoiseach and all I can say to you is that I said to the Taoiseach that Minister O'Dea's position was untenable," he said.

The Dublin South-East TD said Mr O'Dea's involvement of a garda in his brothel allegations against a Sinn Fein politician was "wholly inappropriate".

"We were always very, very concerned about the smear aspect of this. What was less clear to us was the . . . substantive issue," he added.

"As far as we are concerned, the matter is now closed. (A Garda probe) is a matter for the gardai," he said.

Mr Gormley also confirmed that Green Party whip Ciaran Cuffe was not informed of the Government's decision to stage a vote to counter a proposed Fine Gael no confidence motion in the Limerick East TD.

"The circumstances of the vote itself were less than ideal. You cannot vote with the Opposition in circumstances like that because it would spell the end of the Government. We needed an opportunity to look at all the facts," he said.

"I am not making an issue of that. It is just one of those things that can happen in the heat of the moment."

Irish Independent

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