Greens agree on Gormley staying in Cabinet
OUTSPOKEN Green Party backbencher Paul Gogarty has said there is now agreement across his party that its leader, John Gormley, should remain as a senior minister in Government.
All efforts are now understood to be focused on securing a second junior ministerial position for the Greens, rather than implementing the rotational agreement that would have seen Mr Gormley stepping down.
Mr Gogarty said the parliamentary party had agreed at confidential meetings in January that rotation was "no longer deemed desirable or workable" after the number of junior ministers had been cut.
However, sources close to the party said that while members had agreed that Mr Gormley must remain as a senior minister, he may still feel obliged to honour the 2007 top secret rotational agreement.
This would see him stepping down from senior office and allowing one of his backbench TDs to be promoted.
Everything will only become clear, the sources said, when the Taoiseach's new Cabinet is announced next week.
Last week, Energy Minister Eamon Ryan insisted that the issue of rotating ministers would have to be worked out between John Gormley and Brian Cowen.
Green Party TDs and senators believe that in the interests of stability, the party leader should not step down from a senior ministry, said Mr Gogarty.
"There is consensus in the parliamentary party and the Green Party as a whole that he (Mr Gormley) should remain," he said.
In the aftermath of Willie O'Dea's and Martin Cullen's resignations from Cabinet, two Fianna Fail junior ministers can be promoted. That creates the potential to promote a Fianna Fail TD and a Green Party TD from the backbenches.
Under the 2007 deal struck with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the Greens were to receive a second junior ministerial position mid-term.
But in the intervening period, the number of junior ministers was cut, ruling out the chances of the small party obtaining the extra slot.
However, the recent resignations of Mr O'Dea and Mr Cullen have prompted fresh efforts to have the 2007 deal enforced.
"The fact that both O'Dea and Cullen have gone means two junior ministers are going to be promoted, which means there are two vacancies at junior ministry level, so you're not putting anyone out in Fianna Fail," said Mr Gogarty.