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Eamon Ryan
It ain't easy being Green

Eamon Ryan had private word with Taoiseach and Tánaiste after 'inappropriate' attacks on Greens

Fianna Fáil senator Lisa Chambers recently said her party should cut ties with the Greens.


MINISTER FOR THE Environment Eamon Ryan has hit out against what he deemed “inappropriate” and “wrong” attacks on his party from members of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. 

The three parties have to date maintained a collegial working relationship while in coalition together, but in recent weeks the Greens have faced attacks from some of their coalition colleagues during the rough and tumble of the local and European elections campaigns. 

Speaking to RTÉ Prime Time last night, Ryan said he doesn’t think it is good when coalition colleagues attack each other with “accusations that aren’t true”. 

Ryan was referring to Fine Gael Senator and MEP candidate Regina Doherty which included her accusing the Green Party of being “arrogant” and “autocratic”. 

Doherty pledged to be a “watchdog” in the EU for the Greens and accused the party of dividing Dublin city with cycle lanes “like East and West Berlin”.

Ryan said last night: “We are not autocratic, we are democratic.”

He added: “We work well in coalition, we are not out there lambasting our colleagues or doing personal attacks on government colleagues. I think that is totally inappropriate and wrong.”

Taoiseach Simon Harris was asked to respond to Ryan’s comments about Fine Gael targeting the Greens by reporters today.

“I don’t think it should ever happen, quite frankly,” Harris said. “I mean, it’s entirely appropriate for different political parties to express political views during an election.”

“I think everybody should always present those views in a civil and respectful way. But there are three distinct parties in the coalition. And they have every right to operate as distinct portions and have electoral campaign.But I think that should always happen in a civil way.

Harris insisted that “This coalition government is working very well together”.

“I’m working very well with the Tánaiste and Minister Ryan, and I want to get on with the work.”

The Green Party has also faced attacks from within the Fianna Fáil ranks, with senator and MEP candidate Lisa Chambers calling earlier in the campaign for her party to cut ties with the Greens.

“The climate-change agenda, as it currently stands, is confining our regions to a ‘green straitjacket’, preventing us from capitalising on the incredible resources we have,” Chambers said at the time. 

Ryan said yesterday that he has spoken to Taoiseach Simon Harris and Tánaiste Micheál Martin about the targeting of the Greens by some of their parties’ ranks. 

He refused to detail the contents of the conversations but said “they heard what [he] said and I don’t think it will happen again.”

Ryan said you can’t control what people say and that people in his own party have also said things he regrets, but he said that differs to this sort of “systemic attack for electoral gain”.

Tensions between the Green Party and Fine Gael had already emerged at the end of May when the Taoiseach said he was keeping “an open mind” about the possibility of outsourcing the processing of asylum claims to non-EU countries.

That comment prompted pushback from Green Party Minister for Integration Roderick O’Gorman, who said the focus should be on strengthening Ireland’s existing asylum processes. 

Green MEP Ciarán Cuffe was not so reluctant to hit back at Harris’ remarks though, saying, “The shameful Tory Rwanda policy has no place in Ireland. We need humane & effective migration policies. Seriously concerning comments by An Taoiseach.”

Cuffe was referring to the UK’s Rwanda policy which is designed to send asylum seekers to the central African country with no prospect of returning to the UK.

The plan is similar to that proposed by the European People’s Party in the EU Parliament, of which Fine Gael is a part, but differs in that people would be allowed to return to Europe if their claims are successful. 

With reporting from David Mac Redmond

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