Inside the two-hour meeting that decided the tough measures for rebel Green TD Neasa Hourigan
Green Party TDs and Senators put in place harsh sanctions on TD Neasa Hourigan to prevent other TDs across the Coalition breaking ranks.
There was turmoil among the Green Party membership after the “shockingly harsh” sanctions on the TD were announced, with a raft of councillors taking to social media to express their anger.
Ms Hourigan was suspended from the parliamentary party on Wednesday night for 15 months and removed from all Oireachtas Committees after she voted against the Government in the Sinn Féin motion to extend the eviction ban.
The decision was made after a private meeting between Green TDs and Senators took two and a half hours to decide on sanctions.
The majority of the parliamentary party felt the measures were harsh, but necessary to prevent further rebellions
They were designed to be clear and send a message to other Coalition TDs to not vote against the Government, as it is now dealing with a tiny majority, it is believed.
A Green minister was last night silent after one of his staff said Green TDs and Senators should be “ashamed”.
Fingal Cllr Karen Power, who works as an assistant to Minister of State Joe O’Brien, said Green TDs and Senators should be “ashamed” at the “shockingly harsh punishment”.
“The Green PP should be ashamed, a disproportionate and shockingly harsh punishment for a party TD who spoke on behalf of the vulnerable in our society and for Party Policy,” she wrote on Twitter.
A spokesperson for Minister O’Brien did not respond to a request for comment.
The Green parliamentary party “has got its values tragically askew”, according to Cork Cllr Liam Quaide.
Greystones Cllr Lourda Scott said the sanctions were a “desperately poor decision”.
She said: “Not only was Neasa Hourigan voting in line with party policy, but she was voting for what was right.”
A former party chair also strongly criticised the sanctions. Former Dublin Lord Mayor Dublin City Cllr Hazel Chu said: “This is a deeply disappointing and excessively harsh decision.”
Concerns were also raised by former Green Dáil whip Cllr Dan Boyle, who said the 15 month suspension is too long.
“She should be allowed to retain her committee memberships where she does excellent work. I hope a mechanism to appeal these elements exists,” he said.
Cork City Cllr Oliver Moran said he was “gravely disappointed” at Green TDs and Senators on the decision to sanction Ms Hourigan.
When asked to comment on the criticism a spokesperson for the Greens said “effectiveness in government relies on every vote”.
“The parliamentary party regrets having to take these steps but believes effectiveness in government relies on unity in every vote. It will be open to Deputy Hourigan to apply ... after 15 months.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin have brought forward legislation to extend the eviction ban until the end of January.
The law being brought forward is identical Government’s own legislation which put the eviction ban in place until the end of this month, apart from the date.