herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Greens flip flopping on Gormley as a Minister

change: Leader may step down as party pushes for extra ministry

THE Coalition faced a fresh crisis today as the chairman of the Green Party said they expect to gain another ministry.

As Brian Cowen prepared a reshuffle, the Greens were flip flopping on whether John Gormley should step down as Enviornment Minister.

It would allow him a way out of facing blame for the incinerator in his own backyard.

It's emerged Gormley could go to allow his colleague Ciaran Cuffe head up a department.

Senator Dan Boyle said his party are also hoping Brian Cowen will provide a fourth ministry for the minority partner.

The statement will heap further pressure on the already strained relationship between the parties, and in particular is likely to create disquiet among Fianna Fail backbenchers.

If Mr Cowen succumbs to the Green Party expectation then only one member of the paper will be without a ministry.

Mr Boyle refused to deny today that his party leader was considering vacating his Cabinet seat, only saying: "I trust John Gormley's judgement in making the best decision on behalf of the party."

If he does walk away from the Department of Environment the Dublin South East TD is likely to face accusations that he is dodging the deepening row over an incinerator in Ringsend.

It's believed that following the last election, Green TDs agreed a rotation policy so that they would all get a turn to work in a ministerial position.

The agreement is similar to ones negotiated in other European countries but was made before the economy plummeted and before Brian Cowen became Taoiseach.

"We decided that whatever call would be made, would be made by the party leader and that's more or less the situation as it is now," said Senator Boyle today.

However, he did admit that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had agreed to provide an extra junior ministry for the Greens at the mid-way point in Government.

"The situation with the second junior minister has become somewhat complicated because it was first of all reduced by three and then by five and we had an influence in reducing the number by five.

"But there is still a hope and expectation that there will be a fourth Green minister influencing a particular Government department," said Mr Boyle



influence

He added: "I'd like to see an increase Green Party influence in the Government."

The party chairman went on to say that speculation about the Cabinet reshuffle was "unhelpful".

"The Taoiseach will make the decisions," he said.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Martin Cullen remains in hospital today where he was being treated for a back complaint.

Sources in his constituency have suggested that Mr Cullen has already drafted a letter of resignation from Cabinet and that he intends to step down as a TD at the next election.

This opens up another gap for the Taoiseach who already has to fill the ministerial spaces left by the resignations of Willie O'Dea and Trevor Sargent.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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