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Greens are still party of highest standards, says White

The deputy leader of the Green Party, Mary White, has said that the party still retains its high moral standards, despite the revelations concerning Trevor Sargent.

Mrs White said the party was reeling from the news that former Minister of State with responsibility for Food resigned after admitting to unlawfully contacting a garda about a case involving a constituent.

"It's very painful for a small party in government," she said. "But we won't be found wanting in terms of ethics. We try to play our politics fair and with a straight bat," she insisted.

"It was a human error, we're not perfect. We will continue to do our business in a clean and straightforward manner."

Mrs White refused to be drawn into speculation about the origin of the letter which ultimately meant that Mr Sargent was forced to step down.

"Right now we have no idea how all this came to light," she said.

"Perhaps we'll never know how this letter came into the public domain. John Gormley and Trevor Sargent met briefly last night. Trevor was not keen to have that turned into a prolonged speculation about where it came from.

"I'm sure we'll discuss these matters over the coming days," she added.

But she praised the manner in which Mr Sargent resigned from his position.

"Trevor didn't have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the Dail," she said.

"There wasn't heckling, there wasn't cat calls. He stood up and walked out in a dignified manner.

"He resigned promptly so that we could return to the business of government."

Speaking earlier this morning, Mrs White said that they hope to press on with Government business and could not confirm who would take up Sargent's ministerial position.

"We're not looking at that right now. Today is a new day," she said.

"We hope that we can put all of this behind us and so that we can get on with the important business of running the government," she said.

"We do our politics clean and we do it straight and we do it in the best interests of the country."