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Greens call time because of 'mixed message'

THE Green Party last night blamed "bad communication" within the Coalition for its dramatic decision to call for a general election.

The junior coalition partner will break its ties with Fianna Fail once the four-year economic plan is agreed, funding has been secured from Europe and the December Budget is passed.

Party leader John Gormley made his surprise call for a general election in January during a hastily arranged press conference in Leinster House yesterday morning.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen was informed of the Green Party's plans to withdraw from the Fianna Fail-led Government just minutes before the press conference began.

The Green Party's TDs and senators made their decision on Saturday following a series of "long and intensive" discussions, Mr Gormley said.

That meeting followed what Mr Gormley described as a "traumatic" week for the Irish electorate in which citizens felt "misled and betrayed".

The series of "bad communications" during the speculation about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was cited as a major problem area by Mr Gormley.

He and Energy Minister Eamon Ryan were given an "official line which was essentially a mixed message that there were discussions but no negotiations".

"I regret very much that the country is in the hands of the IMF. I think I and my colleagues are deeply upset about what has happened," Mr Gormley said.

But he insisted the Government needed to resolve outstanding matters such as the four-year plan and the Budget before a general election was held.

"Leaving the country without a government while these matters are unresolved would be very damaging and would breach our duty of care," he said.

During a brief conversation with the Taoiseach yesterday morning, Mr Gormley told him that passing the Budget followed by an election was "by far and away the best approach".

Mr Gormley refused to get into any specific details about his conversation with the Taoiseach.

But he did say Mr Cowen had expressed "certain disappointment" at the Green Party's decision to pull out of Government after the Budget is passed.


The Green Party leader and Environment Minister was flanked by the party's five TDs and three senators when he made the surprise call for an election.

The dramatic move could spell disaster for the Greens and their six TDs. The party could struggle to hold most of its seats, given its 3pc standing in the opinion polls. The Greens have already been reduced to just three council seats.

Only Mr Ryan and backbencher Trevor Sargent are perceived as having a realistic shot at retaining their seats.

Mr Ryan last night insisted it was in the national interest for the Dail to pass the December Budget.

"This is not a time for party politics, it is a time for national politics," he said.

"We are listening to people, we understand how people feel and what we want to give is a certain amount of certainty and an actual process within which that certainty -- politically and economically -- can be arrived at," the minister added.

Party chairman Dan Boyle said pulling out of the Government now was not an option as it could compromise the ongoing negotiations between the Government, the EU and IMF.

Irish Independent