By Cate McCurry, PA
Eamon Ryan has said the expulsion of two Green Party TDs after they voted with the opposition, has left the coalition’s majority “tight”.
Green Party TDs Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello lost the party whip for voting against the Government on Wednesday.
The move reduces the Government’s majority in the Dáil to 80 TDs against 79 opposition TDs.
The two Green Party TDs broke ranks on Wednesday evening to back a motion calling for “full public ownership” of the National Maternity Hospital site.
The Dáil passed the Sinn Féin motion, with the final result 56 TDs in favour, 10 against and 69 Government TDs abstaining.
Mr Ryan said on Thursday that while the Dáil vote will be “tight”, there has not yet been a close vote and that the coalition remains “well functioning and stable”.
He also said that he told other coalition leaders on Wednesday afternoon of what the party would likely do.
“It was an internal Green party issue. We managed it ourselves. I don’t think anyone from any other party came next or near us,” Mr Ryan added.
“Our chief whip, Mark Ó Cathasaigh, under our rules, came to the parliamentary party, that was his recommendation. It was agreed to by consensus.
“We are in a very strong and important position in Government, we have real responsibility to deliver the Programme for Government, which is very green and which I believe is going to be good for the people of this country.
“That strength comes when you are strong in Government, working with your coalition partners, and everyone votes with government.
“For that reason, and it was with regret, the chief whip came, and the parliamentary party agreed that we should suspend two members who hadn’t voted with government.
“We are two years into Government, and it’s the chief whip call, to make a decision in what is the appropriate sanction, and we felt that was the right and appropriate one.
“I informed them [coalition leaders] yesterday of what we were likely going to be doing. 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 they gave us room to manage. [The vote] is tight, but it is a well functioning and stable and committed Government.
“There are three projects this Government has to deliver on, addressing the housing crisis, bringing health reform and showing a real leap in climate change and that’s the work we are focussed on.
“All three parties are committed to it.”
The Green Party TDs had signalled in advance of the vote that they would join opposition parties to support the motion.
The decision came after the pair joined with opposition parties to back a motion calling on the Government to secure full public ownership of the National Maternity Hospital site.
Despite Cabinet approving the ownership and governance plans for the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) at St Vincent’s earlier this week, critics of the agreement have continued to accuse the Government of failing to properly secure state ownership of a secular hospital.
The controversy has dogged the Government for several weeks and on Tuesday the Government had hoped to dodge a vote on the non-binding Sinn Féin motion by not opposing it.