Revealed – the Whatsapp message from Eamon Ryan’s communications chief telling Greens not to comment on eviction ban vote

Pauline O'Reilly

Hugh O'Connell

Green TDs and senators were told by Eamon Ryan’s communications chief not to comment publicly on how they planned to vote on a Dáil motion to extend the eviction ban.

The WhatsApp warning was issued on Sunday, with the party’s TDs and senators also warned not to comment on possible sanctions facing those who did not side with the Government in the vote on the Sinn Féin motion today.

The message was sent by Aiden Corkery, the deputy government press secretary, who speaks on behalf of the Greens in government and was appointed by Mr Ryan, the Green Party leader.

Mr Corkery wrote in a message seen by “Hi everyone, there are a number of PPs [sic, political correspondents] sniffing around the issue of the SF vote, how you will vote and possible sanctions for not voting with the Government. Can you please avoid commenting. We’ll discuss the matter at our Monday night PP tomorrow. Thanks.”

Nineteen minutes after he posted the message in the internal party WhatsApp group, Mr Corkery sent a follow-up message to clarify that his request did not refer to an interview given by party chair senator Pauline O’Reilly to RTÉ less than an hour earlier.

“The above request does not refer to Pauline’s recent interview which she had given me a heads up on in advance!” Mr Corkery wrote.

Mr Ryan refused to be drawn on what sanction Ms Hourigan would face for voting against the Government for the second time in less than a year

Ms O’Reilly, a close ally of Mr Ryan’s, appeared on RTÉ’s This Week programme to discuss the motion and possible sanctions facing her party colleague Neasa Hourigan, the Dublin Central TD who had confirmed earlier that day she would back the motion to extend the ban. Ms O’Reilly said Ms Hourigan’s punishment would go “beyond” previous sanctions. ​

Speaking in advance of last night’s debate on the motion, Mr Ryan refused to be drawn on what sanction Ms Hourigan would face for voting against the Government for the second time in less than a year.

He said the matter would be discussed at a Green parliamentary party meeting expected to take place this evening after the Dáil votes on the motion.

The latest Green WhatsApp leak comes a week after the party’s communications director Thomas Molloy tweeted there was “not one sensible person” on an RTÉ TV panel discussing the eviction ban, a group that included Ms Hourigan.

Mr Molloy deleted the tweet, apologised for an “idiotic mistake” and explained it was meant to be a text to a friend. But the tweet led to a row in a private WhatsApp group for Green Party elected representatives after two councillors criticised Mr Molloy’s comments.

Their comments were deleted by group admin Limerick TD Brian Leddin, the group was then locked so no new messages could be sent, reopened again, only to be locked again after Wicklow councillor Erika Doyle posted: “I feel very sorry for the leakers’ constituents as this snake behaviour is fully representative of their character. Leak that!”

Ms Doyle said later she would “happily have it out” with the leakers.