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Each man in his time plys many parts
If, as The Bard had it, all the world’s a stage, then Green Paul Gogarty is a better actor than most. He’s been a New Romantic, a busker, a journalist and an editor before being elected to the Dáil. But even that is only half of it. In a remarkably open interview, he talks about the price of being in government with Fianna Fáil, his multiple identities on web fora, rumours that he was gay, the issue of depression – and the true story of his adoption.
Jason O'Toole, 27 Feb 2009
John Gormley said to me last year: “We’re in an unusual government, in that we are not propping up this government. The idea of a prop is that when you remove the prop, the whole thing falls. We could all resign in the morning and this government would still go on.” That’s not accurate now…
Fianna Fail don’t realise yet that one of the legs has been pulled out from under them – and that it is the Greens propping them up. It’s very clear that if the Greens decide to vote against the government the government will fall.
Are you going to flex your political muscles more now?
I don’t think we have tested the waters enough in standing up to Fianna Fail. However, there have been several instances when we have slammed the table hard and put it up to them. You are never going to hear about it. There has been a significant amount of Fianna Fail drawing back on issues where we have – behind the scenes – said, ‘We’re not happy with that’. That’s going to happen more and more. We have to be careful and use that new influence wisely because if you push too strong it’s going to tumble down and if you don’t push strong enough then what’s the point of being in government? It is a balancing act. And I don’t think we’ve got it right just yet.
There’s a theory that the Greens are holding tight for another six months in order to secure those ministerial pensions?
Bullshit! We are not motivated by that.
For the Greens the Environment portfolio might be a poisoned chalice because if it doesn’t go smoothly for you it will reflect badly on the party.
In some ways, I personally would have argued not to take environment because it’s too clichéd. But, given that it’s crucial in setting a Green agenda, we had to take it. I can’t read the Taoiseach’s mind but I assumed the attitude of his predecessor was: ‘Give the Greens whatever they want in their own portfolios and let the real team deal with the rest of it!’ You could argue that we’ve done substantially well in our own ministries, but have had less input into other ministries than we would like or the Programme For Government would indicate. That’s where we have to strike a balance. That’s why we’ll have to make up our mind: ‘Ok, are we getting enough or not?’