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Eamon Ryan says his party 'showed real strength' in suspending two Green TDs

The party leader said there was “consensus” within his parliamentary party to suspend Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello.

Ryan speaking at Dublin City Council today.
Ryan speaking at Dublin City Council today.
Image: The Journal

GREEN PARTY LEADER Eamon Ryan has said his parliamentary party “showed real consensus and real strength” in suspending two TDs for voting against the government. 

Deputies Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello last night voted in favour of a Sinn Féin motion which called on the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to be fully public and located on publicly owned land.

Government TDs from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens largely abstained on the symbolic vote, which was passed in the Dáil by 56 votes in favour, 10 against and 69 abstentions.

After Hourigan and Costello voted for the motion, the Green Party announced that its parliamentary party had agreed to remove the party whip and suspend Costello and Hourigan for six months.

Speaking about that decision this morning, party leader Ryan said that “strength within government” comes from working with coalition partners and “when everyone votes with government”. 

“For that reason, and it was with real regret, our chief whip came and the parliamentary party agreed that we should suspend two members who hadn’t voted with government,” he said. 

Ryan said the six month suspension was recommended by the Green Party chief whip Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD and was then “agreed by consensus” within the party. 

Speaking to reporters at the launch of the NTA’s Walking and Cycling Index, Ryan said that while “a lot of voters” share the concerns of Costello and Hourigan, “the majority of voices I was hearing” wanted to see the hospital built without further delay. 

People have strong views on it and are entitled to that but we managed it in our our way and I think our parliamentary party yesterday showed real consensus, real strength and this is part of our tradition in terms of how we work collectively, including applying sanctions.

Ryan also said that no members of the other Coalition partners were involved in the decision to sanction the Green TDs. 

“We managed it ourselves, I don’t think anyone from any other party came next to near us,” he said. 

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Ryan said, however, that he had spoken to Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar yesterday afternoon and “informed them what we’re likely to do”. 

He added: “When Fianna Fáil had a problem they lost one of their members. You work in Coalition on the basis of trust and each party manages its own affairs. It’s a well functioning government. There is trust between the three parties and I think they gave us room to manage what they knew we have to manage.”

The suspension of Hourigan and Costello potentially puts a dent in the government’s Dáil majority, which Ryan acknowledged was “tight”, but he expressed hope that they would continue to support the government’s agenda. 

“Yes, of course. Not just them but others too. Following the vote on the National Maternity Hospital I think he they did support government in later votes yesterday evening,” he said.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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