The upcoming vote on the proposed free-trade deal between the EU and Canada could see a string of further resignations from the Green Party.
The party is currently battling internal allegations of bullying, a schism between key members over the party’s actions since entering Government and growing concern over the upcoming vote on the deal.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada is already provisionally in force; however, it still has to be ratified by all member states – with just 16 members having given it the green light so far.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Newstalk Political Correspondent Sean Defoe outlined the Green Party’s current struggles and talked to party members on both sides of the divide.
South Dublin Councillor Peter Kavanagh became the fourth councillor to resign from the party late last month.
He told Sean the internal atmosphere in the party has become “toxic.”
“It’s just really not a nice place to try and put your head above the parapet and raise an opinion that challenges the establishment or tries to question why we are doing something that we are doing,” he said.
“We have seen allegations of bullying that have been poo pooed by senior members of the party and we have seen allegations of gaslighting as well and I firmly believe that is happening.”
"Failure of political leadership"
He said there is a “failure of political leadership” within the party – with senior members, “far more concerned about being in Government and doing things in Government than doing the right things in Government.”
“The tone of the response I would get to any criticism or questioning wasn’t very welcoming in the first instance but I suppose it just got worse and worse and it became abusive,” he said.
“Eventually, when it sort of degenerated to threatening emails and anonymous phone calls from people who claim to be supporters of the Green Party, I kind of realised that this really wasn’t worth it and I had run out of road with the party.”
The party’s concerns over CETA largely centre on a state company dispute resolution mechanism, which could potentially give international investors the ability to sue Government over policy changes that affect profits.
The Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said those concerns were largely addressed by a European Court of Justice ruling which found that the treaty, “could not be used to overbear the core fundamental rights and principals within EU.”
“Speaking personally that offered me a degree of reassurance against the risk of core values – the core values of Ireland, the core values of the EU ever being jeopardised by an action a foreign multi-national might take,” he said.
For others however, the upcoming Dáil vote on the deal may be the final straw.
Killiney Councillor Una Power said the split in the party is very sad to see – and warned that not enough was being done to bring people together.
"It is harder and harder to see your position especially as you see everyone you joined with leave," she said.
"Right now, for me, my focus is just to continue fighting that good fight on CETA. I am just going to keep fighting it but if that is ratified, I can’t see my position as being tenable.
"I’ll put it this way, the person that brought me into the party is gone. The person who spoke at my first meeting that really amazed me and got me to become a member is gone.
"The first person who went out canvassing with me is gone and nearly all of my canvassing team from my last night of canvassing prior to my election is gone."
You can listen back to the full report form Seán Defoe here: