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Green leader Ryan briefed Varadkar and Martin on steps taken over Joe O'Brien's failure to back Government policy


Eamon Ryan. Picture: RollingNews.ie

Eamon Ryan. Picture: RollingNews.ie


Eamon Ryan. Picture: RollingNews.ie

Eamon Ryan, the Green Party leader, briefed his partners in coalition about the steps taken over a junior minister's failure to back Government policy.

Joe O'Brien, the junior minister for charities, abstained on a Housing Bill amid Green Party internal unhappiness that it could erode the situation of some tenants.

Mr Ryan responded by suspending him for two months -- but the Dáil has gone into recess for six weeks, meaning he will face the maximum of a fortnight on furlough. Backbenchers in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have privately suggested that the punishment is a wrist-slap that will do little to deter future deviation from Government policy.

But Taoiseach Micheal Martin declared at Dublin Castle that internal disciplinary matters were for political parties themselves.

"Eamon Ryan has spoken to minister O'Brien in relation to this. He (Ryan) has taken steps. The parties are different, and we want to keep the focus on the policy agenda."

There was much to be progressed in the Autumn, he added, citing the land development Bill, as well as health, housing and climate change.

Pressed on the rebellion, which was accompanied by Dublin Central Green TD Neasa Hourigan resigning the whip - as GP whip herself - in order to vote against the Bill, Mr Martin professed himself undisturbed at the ill-discipline within the ranks of his junior coalition partner.

"I've been in Government before, I don't get totally fazed by events," he said.

He claimed to believe that there enough attention on the substance of Government and the achievements of his administration so far, whether it was the July stimulus or the roadmap for the re-opening of schools. Channelling US President Donald Trump, Mr Martin said "I think a lot of people have been surprised" at how many decisions the Government had processed since taking office.

Asked again about whether the punishment was sufficient, Mr Martin said: "Every party has its own internal disciplinary procedures.

"Eamon Ryan spoke to me last evening, and to Leo Varadkar as well, and we are progressing the Programme for Government and its policy priorities."

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