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Boot Boy Ahern gives Gormley a kicking as Greens struggle to keep up with changes

DESPITE his new hip, the Boot Boy has dished out a firm kicking to the Green Party from his sick bed.

Despite gaining a pension package that will cost the State around €6m in total, Dermot Ahern was hopping mad after John Gormley suggested he was unfit for office.

An angry exchange between the two TDs took place after Mr Gormley publicly revealed details of Mr Ahern's medical condition.

The junior coalition partner had suggested on RTE's Six One News that Ahern could resign from Cabinet after undergoing a hip operation.

Minutes later Mr Ahern rang the Green leader and an angry exchange ensued.

Mr Gormley denied that he received "a bollocking" from the hospitalised TD but admitted: "Dermot Ahern did take exception to that. He said he was quite capable of performing his duties."

And in a further embarrassment for the Dublin TD, retiring Health Minister Mary Harney gave him no clue that she would be resigning -- even though they met in the corridors of Leinster House minutes before she went public.


In fact, Mr Gormley only learned of the minister's decision from his wife after she watched the Nine News on Wednesday night.

At a press conference last night, the Green Party outlined the size of the gulf between the Government partners, but claimed that they could carry on until March 11.

At one point during the meeting it was put to Mr Gormley that Fianna Fail had put out a very different version of the reshuffle events. But backbencher Paul Gogarty could be heard muttering "burn it" as his leader replied: "The version of events that we are giving you is the correct version."

As the extent of the Government's dysfunction was laid bare he said he knew nothing about the stream of resignations from Cabinet.


"We're not spinning here," he insisted, while describing relations between himself and Taoiseach Brian Cowen as tense.

"There is no reason to believe that it has been irrevocably damaged," he said of the relationship with Fianna Fail.

The stress of the day was etched on the faces of all the Greens and at one point during the press conference an emotional Trevor Sargent was spotted on the verge of tears.

However, an angry Taoiseach claimed that Greens had changed the rules and stolen his right to appoint a new Cabinet. Mr Gormley said trust had been "eroded" by the chaotic attempt at a reshuffle and continuing on in Government was "not easy".

"All options were considered," he said, before adding that a 4pc result in the election would be good for his party.

Green Party minister Eamon Ryan is part of a delegation of TDs and Brian Cowen travelling to a North/South Ministerial Council in Armagh today.