Greens pledge to support embattled Taoiseach
THE leader of the Greens last night refused to say if his party would tolerate another below-par performance from embattled Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
As the debacle over the 'Morning Ireland' interview dragged on into a fourth day, John Gormley said the Taoiseach had had an "off day" and a "bad interview".
But he insisted that his party was now leaving the controversy surrounding Mr Cowen's radio performance behind it.
He pledged to see out the full term of office with Fianna Fail until 2012.
Yet despite expressing confidence in Mr Cowen's leadership, Mr Gormley repeatedly refused to say what he would do if the Taoiseach put in another below-par performance. He claimed that such questions were "hypothetical".
"What more can we say? The man gave a bad interview and he subsequently apologised," Mr Gormley said at the end of his party's think-in in Carlow.
The Taoiseach's interview was discussed at the meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday but the Green Party leader refused to reveal what ministers had said, citing cabinet confidentiality.
But Mr Gormley did concede that Mr Cowen had volunteered to apologise.
That apology was accepted by Mr Gormley, who said he now wanted to leave the matter behind, adding that the Irish public wanted political parties to focus on the real issues facing the country and not on what he called "political gossip".
Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said he had confidence in Mr Cowen and his ability to lead the Government through tough times.
"I do have confidence that Brian Cowen can lead us through that sort of work," he said.
In his opening speech to the media, Mr Ryan said the public wanted hope and optimism from politicians. Asked later if Mr Cowen had struck these two themes in his Tuesday morning interview, Mr Ryan conceded this hadn't come across.
However, he also insisted that Fianna Fail matters should be dealt with by Fianna Fail, just as the Green Party would deal with its own internal matters.
Fianna Fail and the Greens had worked well together through difficult times and come through the Lisbon referenda, tough budgets and the banking crisis, Mr Ryan said.
"That's not finished. We have important business to finish and to do it effectively. I believe we can do that," Mr Ryan said.
And he claimed that "real clarity" would be brought to Anglo Irish Bank in a matter of weeks when a timeline and costs are made available.
That would provide a "real picture" and provide reassurance, both nationally and internationally, he added.