Tuesday 28 January 2020

Honour, at least, in resignation

APPROPRIATELY, the Greens' former leader who, perhaps more than anyone else in the Dail, had come to personify political propriety, has recaptured the high moral ground for his party after last week's Grand Old Duke of York performance by the current leader and his troops.

By promptly stepping down in face of evidence that he lobbied gardai to drop a prosecution against a constituent two years ago, Trevor Sargent has shown how a resignation should be done.

His easy guide to stepping down may yet prove useful to other members of the Dail, given that resignation has belatedly come into vogue.

Mr Sargent has had some experience of resignation, but always on a point of principle.

On being elected to the Dail for the first time, he immediately resigned his county council seat in line with his policy on dual mandates. When his party was elected to go into government with Fianna Fail, following the 2007 election, he resigned the party leadership, because that is what he had said he would do.

Again, this was seen as a measure of his integrity, even if some Greens were left scratching their heads, wondering where they had picked up the notion that their party leader had actually been ruling out coalition with Fianna Fail.

Incredulity was the prevailing reaction yesterday. How could Trevor Sargent, of all people, put himself in such a position?

Eight years ago, he spoke in the Dail on the resignation of Bobby Molloy, who had made approaches to a judge's office about a rape case. He said then: "Any representation relating to a court case ought to be acknowledged with a warning about the need not to interfere in any way with due judicial process."

Yet, a few years later, Mr Sargent felt he could, similarly, make representations, even before the case in question had come to court.

Once upon a time, Trevor Sargent was held in a headlock by a Fianna Fail councillor after he had challenged his fellow county councillors to tell all about payments from developers.

Today, the entire Green parliamentary party could be said to be caught in a political headlock by its government partners.

At least Trevor Sargent, honourable to a fault, has restored to them a little of their diminished moral authority.

Irish Independent

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