Dominic McGrath, PA
Eamon Ryan has defended the party’s handling of comments made by a Green Party TD in a WhatsApp group.
He also insisted that there is no gap between himself and his parliamentary party, ahead of the Green Party think-in.
On Monday, the Green Party leader said he was “perfectly close” with his party colleagues, while also stressing that the coalition Government is working and making strides to tackle climate change.
Mr Ryan’s leadership has come in for criticism since his party agreed to enter government with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, with some high-profile defections from the party’s ranks and a leadership contest between Mr Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin last year.
He also backed the party’s handling of comments made by Green Party TD Brian Leddin.
Last week, Ms Martin said she was “disappointed” about the failure to discipline Mr Leddin, who apologised for comments he made in a party WhatsApp group about Limerick councillor Elisa O’Donovan, in which he called her “unhinged” and said she “craved fame”.
Further derogatory comments were made by others in the group, which Mr Leddin has acknowledged he should have objected to.
He subsequently appeared before a meeting of the party’s executive committee, which noted his apology and decided he would not be sanctioned.
Mr Ryan told RTÉ radio that he agreed with the executive’s decision.
“We have a huge amount of work to do, and have been doing a lot of work in the last year, in how we do what we’ve always done, try to insist on dignity and respect, particularly on social media networks, where there’s a tendency, a characteristic of those networks, that they tend to divide,” he said.
“Brian apologised, but it’s critical in what we do today, we show that dignity and respect.”
Mr Ryan also said that his party will back Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in a no-confidence vote when the Dáil resumes this week.
Mr Coveney and the Government have faced criticism over the handling of the short-lived appointment of former minister Katherine Zappone to a UN special envoy role.
He said that “there was a mistake made” but the Government had moved on. “I don’t believe the Irish people would thank us if we brought down a government,” Mr Ryan said.