Trevor’s Incredible Stretching Conscience

June 18, 2007 at 11:54 am 8 comments

Either Trevor Sargent is an ethical simpleton, or else he believes that the rest of us are. Trevor is now ‘absolutely happy’ with Bertie Ahern’s word on his personal finances. Why? Because the Greens were given two cabinet seats. That follows his Alice in Wonderland resignation speech after ‘proudly’ breaking his word to the electorate. Let’s look at exactly what has happened. >>>

Making the Promise

Before the election, Trevor Sargent promised that he would not lead the Green Party into government with Fianna Fáil. Many people who voted (or transferred) Green did so because they were reassured by Trevor’s promise.

The meaning of that promise was 100% clear. Trevor was personally opposed to the Greens supporting Fianna Fáil. Indeed, he was so absolutely opposed to this idea that he would resign as leader if the Party disagreed with him.

Breaking the Promise

After the election, Trevor broke both the letter and the spirit of this promise, by leading the Green Party in government with Fianna Fáil.

  • He played a central role in the negotiations. When the talks broke down, he broke the deadlock by dealing one-to-one as party leader with Bertie Ahern.
  • He passionately urged party members to endorse the deal, and described the yes-vote as the proudest day of his life.
  • Even technically, he did not keep his word. He is still the leader of the Green Party, and as party leader, he seconded Ahern’s nomination for Taoiseach.

Losing his Mind

Now Trevor’s elastic conscience has stretched even more. Before the election, he was one of the honourable few who kept raising the issue of Bertie Ahern’s personal finances.

Now he says that he is ‘absolutely’ happy with Bertie’s word on his personal finances. Why? Well, just read today’s Irish Times:

Mr Sargent said there had to be a relationship of trust for a coalition to succeed and he negotiated senior ministries with Mr Ahern after ‘long and fairly arduous’ discussions. ‘But in the end he delivered, so he hasn’t certainly let me down. I’ve no reason not to trust him and I think he’s a man of his word,’ he told TV3, adding that he would let the tribunal get on with its work.

So, because Bertie Ahern kept a commitment to give the Green Party two cabinet seats, as part of a deal that would make Bertie Ahern Taoiseach, Trevor Sargent has no reason not to trust him on the issue of his personal finances.

Oh, and I almost forgot, Trevor may end up taking a junior Ministry.

Clearly, the planet is in safe hands.

Entry filed under: Favourites, Most Viewed, News, Politics.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. madmouser  |  June 18, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Pretty outrageous. Looks like they are following United States politics.

  • 2. Ronan  |  June 18, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Hasn’t the negotiations led to a promise by Fianna Fáil to cut the whole of Ireland’s carbon emissions by 30%? I think the time frame is something like 10 years but it would be the biggest cut by any European country to date and was one of the Green Party’s goals in the first place.

    Living in England means I don’t follow Irish politics as much as I’d like but from what I’ve read I don’t like this situation one bit but that if the deal I’ve written above is true then surely that’s promising.

  • 3. Michael Nugent  |  June 18, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Fair point, Ronan. There are are really two issues here. One is whether the deal is good for the environment. The other is how the Greens misled the voters.
    It corrupts the whole essence of democracy if senior politicians, once elected, immediately do the opposite of what they promised to do.
    And he didn’t even say ‘I’ve changed my mind, and here’s why.’ Instead, he is pretending that he is actually keeping his word.

  • 4. John Cav  |  June 19, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Good points one and all. I have offered my own analysis of the coalition on my own blog. I would give you the gist of it here and now, but needless to say I am too emotionally drained to analytically delve through those levels of cynicism once more.


  • 5. Michael Nugent  |  June 19, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    John, I was going to post this on your blog, but I don’t have a Google account. So, until I get one, I’ll post it here.
    Good analysis of Bertie. Also, another one of his legacy hopes is that he will be up there with Dev for longevity as Taoiseach. He’s now safe unless he does something to really annoy both the PDs and the Greens at the same time, which is unlikely.
    With regard to the Greens, no, you are not the only person who is not that surprised at their decision. But, in many ways, that is the real problem. We should be surprised when a Party leader breaks his word as brazenly as this. That we are not surprised is a problem in itself.

  • 6. John Cav  |  June 19, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    I agree totally. And it saddens me, despite the cynicism.

    To be honest, I never had much faith in Sargent’s leadership capabilities. Gormley strikes me as the main player in the current manisfestation of the Green Party. The man who is really listened to in the party. An astute politician. Perhaps too astute… I jest.

    In the midst of the deception there is still the possibility of some environmental good coming of the coalition, so all is not lost I suppose. Even if Bertie assumes the credit. Dev Mach II? Certainly.

  • 7. Michael  |  July 3, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    I’m a little surprised at this reaction, most people are impressed with Trevor’s decision.

    Here’s how I see it:
    The Greens refused to rule anyone out. This probably lost them some votes, but they said that they have no objections to going in with any party, provided the price was right.

    However, the Greens preferred FG/Lab, as did Trevor personally. This was announced publicly. FG/Lab didn’t come up with the seats, so the Greens had to look to FF. As the deal came in, Trevor changed his mind with regard to FF. He’s entitled to do that, but he had made a promise that he’d resign as leader if the party went in with FF. Once the party voted yes, he resigned. He did exactly as he said he would, even though the consequences weren’t good for his political career.

    For me, it showed a degree of honesty – not cynicism. If he were just another cynical politician, he’d have just stayed on.

  • 8. Michael Nugent  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Michael, I take your point about the Green’s officially ‘neutral’ position, but Trevor’s position was somewhat different to what you have outlined it as.

    Trevor promised that he would not lead the Greens into coalition with FF, not that he would enthusiastically lead them into such a coalition, call it the proudest day of his life, and then resign.

    His promise gave voters the clear impression that, if the Greens were somehow to go into coalition with FF, it would be so much against the wishes of their Party Leader that he would resign.

    That promise, coming with the authority of a Party Leader, misled voters who were pro-Green but anti-FF, by making them feel much safer in voting for or transferring to the Greens.


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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.


Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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