INAGH based Senator Róisín Garvey has apologised after comments she made about Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin in a Whatsapp group.
Reports emerged last week that after Eamon Ryan, who Ms Garvey supported, had defeated Ms Martin in the Green Party leadership contest, she wrote, “She tried to bring him down and failed. F*** her, a win is a win. Well done everyone”.
In a statement to the Clare Champion Ms Garvey said that there is no animosity between herself and the party’s deputy leader. “Myself and Catherine Martin have always got on and we still get on well and have moved past that comment from a few weeks ago. In fact she has taken up my invite to holiday in Clare and has accepted the offer and I will be showing her and her family around our beautiful county the week after next. As Minister for Tourism it is great she has decided to holiday in Clare.”
She also said the incident was “a non story” and added, “As a passionate politician you get carried away sometimes in the heat of the moment and I didn’t think it was a good time for the leadership contest, and when it was over I was relieved. It was a big distraction for the party and really what we want to focus on is the Programme for Government and doing the best we can. Personally I want to get all I can for Clare and I want to focus on that. It was a big distraction and of course nobody should ever use those words.”
As the Government staggered towards the summer recess the Green Party appeared to be increasingly divided and unsure. Ms Garvey said that while most members were united behind the decision to go into Government a vocal minority are not. “76% of the members voted for the Programme for Government. The 24%, some of them are finding it difficult to accept that fact. As a result they have let their feelings be known, instead of doing it within the party they’ve gone to the media which is a pity really. We are the only party that allows the membership to decide (on going into Government), a 2/3rds majority is required, and we got more than that, we got three quarters. When you’re in a political party you support your party, maybe some people who are newer to politics aren’t fully clear on that concept, or maybe feel they don’t know where they belong now if what they wanted didn’t happen, so they’re still trying to figure that out. Some people take it personally which is a pity.”
She said that those who are unhappy with the decision to enter Government have to be accommodated within the Green Party. “We have to find a place for them in the party too, they’re welcome to be involved in policy formation as well. We can all contribute to how the party works. The best thing to do is work on policy instead of going to the media about your personal opinions.”
Asked about how she has settled into the role of Senator, the Inagh woman said, “It has been an intense four weeks because of the Covid emergency. We haven’t been meeting properly, it’s just a few people going in and out. There are a lot of emergency bills being passed so I had a lot of reading to do to know what the bills were about and to inform myself. We had no induction as senators either, I had no office up there, so it was challenging. I am delighted to be able to bring the voice of rural Ireland and Clare to the Seanad.”
Of the day to day work, she added, “The Senator, because they are a national politician, they take in requests and emails from community groups, individuals, maybe NGOs, and people who want to offer advice to the Government. You have to deal with all of those on a local and a national level. Today I sat down and I went through about 150 emails.”
An important element of the role is showing people and groups what they may benefit from. “A big part of my job is connecting people with funding, that can be daunting for voluntary community groups. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into that over the last few weeks as well, as soon as there’s any money announced and possibly available, whether it’s for the County Council or for different community groups, I’m putting a lot of energy into making sure they get the information. Usually with those it’s finite, so its first come first served.”
Being a Senator means spending a couple of nights a week in Dublin for most of the year. “Come Thursday evening all I want to do is get back to Clare. It’s mad, I never missed Clare so much,” she laughs.