Fianna Fáil backbenchers redouble scathing criticisms of Fine Gael and Green coalition colleagues over ‘rocky start’
Fianna Fáil’s leading backbench TDs have redoubled their criticisms of coalition partners Fine Gael and the Green Party as the discord inside Government showed little sign of easing.
Former Fianna Fáil minister Willie O’Dea criticised the Fine Gael Tánaiste and his predecessor for clinging to perks associated with their previous positions. Mr O’Dea said Tánaiste Leo Varadkar “has no need of an aide-de-camp” which was associated with his previous role as Taoiseach, nor had the former Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, the need for a garda driver.
The Limerick TD again insisted that travel controls on people receiving Covid-19 welfare payments were “discriminatory” and these factors contributed to the new Coalition’s faltering start. Mr O’Dea said all these factors had contributed to public anger in reacting to the new Government.
At the same time, Sligo Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry was scathingly critical of two Green Party TDs – one a junior minister – for their failure to vote with the Government last week on housing legislation.
Mr MacSharry derisively referred to the Greens’ “free love” attitude to fulfil their obligations for voting with the Government they has joined.
But speaking for the Green Party, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman said there would be no repeat of last Thursday’s voting incident.
He said the two party TDs, Neasa Hourigan and Joe O’Brien, undertook not to repeat their actions and Green Party colleagues would work on better communications. “We need a united Government to deliver on the Programme for Government and that programme was ratified by our party members; 76pc in favour of it and there is a lot of really good things in it that our members support and I support, while there is stuff that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael members would find difficult,” he told the Irish Independent.
Mr O’Gorman acknowledged the difficulty his party colleagues had in supporting some measures backed by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. But it would also happen that these two parties would be obliged to support measures put forward by the Green Party which they disliked.
“I know in the last number of weeks we have had a Government that was formed in the middle of a pandemic. I know that the Government has had to have a lot to deal with this week and I know that is part of the reason why we have had these breakdowns in communication internally within the party and we have to do much more to address that,” he told Newstalk radio’s ‘On The Record’ show in an earlier interview.
“Going forward, I think it is absolutely essential that the entire Green Party – and indeed all parties – are supportive of the Government.”
On Saturday, Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said the new Government got off to a “rocky start” and made “unforced errors”.
Mr O’Gorman said some of the Government’s mistakes overshadowed its achievements. Separately, he said he was committed to ending the direct provision system for asylum seekers and hoped for progress on this soon.