jump to navigation

Area woman offers principled resignation from current job – after NAMA… after the PfG… after the Budget… after the Local elections… after… February 12, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

Those of us who have watched that free bird of democracy that is Deirdre De Búrca (she of the variable fada on her website) soar… no, flutter… no… perhaps drop – yeah, drop is the right term …into the air of national and European electoral politics may not be entirely surprised by the ‘surprise’ development of her resignation today.

And, by the way, what a week in Irish politics. It’s like a time-tunnel has yawned open to 2007 or earlier when personalities rather than economic analyses ruled the airwaves – although I’ve pointed out how in the case of one resignation this week that wasn’t as personality driven, at least as a dynamic, as some have argued. In this instance though, many who have met De Búrca will attest to her burning ambition. An ambition that curiously never seemed entirely sated.

Here was a failed 2007 General Election candidate who was nominated to the Seanad by An Taoiseach… not a bad result, all things considered. Though, as a friend noted, their first view of her in that chamber was the sight of her texting furiously on her mobile. And, those who have considered the debates of that august chamber (and this site, as is well known by now, takes them very seriously indeed) will have noted that she was never the most vocal contributor.

The Green Party, will be concerned that this will impact on them seriously. And, as with George Lee where those beyond political activity are more sympathetic than those engaged in it, there is the possibility that she will be regarded as a fallen heroine.

Lousy timing for her, though. I mean of course in the sense of George Lee resigning on Monday. Rumour had it that the good news was to be delivered earlier this week. But, perhaps keen to get some share of the headlines (you can see them yourselves, sure they write themselves ‘What’s wrong with Irish politics that two up and coming politicians should leave in the same week?’) the date wasn’t dropped but was pushed back. Problem is that while Lee is known to almost anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the national news over the past decade, de Búrca’s profile is more modest. If it had been me I’d have resigned on Wednesday, just at the point that the Lee story was getting old. But, this Friday? With the psychological barrier of the weekend? Not that it makes a blind bit of difference. The GP parliamentary party were straight up and out presenting a unified front – as indeed one could easily predict they would. Whatever one’s views on their political path these past two or so years, the general unity of purpose – even amongst such a seemingly disparate grouping – has been quite impressive. And really, what alternative did they have?

Moreover, de Búrca has no faction, or fraction, she can call her own. Very much a political sole trader, albeit one given surprising latitude by the parliamentary party, it seems bridges were burnt with much of her original constituency party long ago. Although one could reasonably ask what constituency that was? Wicklow, Dublin? Brussels?

But, fascinating is it not that this comes in a week when new Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn appointed her cabinet and the name De Búrca was nowhere to be seen.

The connection? Well, none, of course. Because it had never been stated publicly by anyone close to the action that there was one.

Which didn’t stop the Phoenix from reporting this week that:

Senator Deirdre De Burca may now regret the obvious leaking of news that she was about to be launched into EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn’s cabinet, as there appears to be no place at Quinn’s table for this most ambitious of Green career politicians even though this had been indicated to her earlier.


G-Q’s people were unimpressed when, weeks before Christmas, reports of De Burca’s purported appointment to the cabinet came to them via the national media and the Oireachtas grapevine as well as the Wicklow Times…. however the inspired leaking of the story earned De Burca black marks in the eyes of Quinn and her job prospect zoomed as a result.

And the Wicklow Times piece? Well that put it in the following language (and hat tip to Madam Poulet for having the presence of mind to scan it)…

A source close to the politician told the Wicklow Times that de Burca will abandon her responsibilities as a Senator in the coming months and join Ireland’s first female EU Commissioner and former Fianna Fáil TD, Maire Geoghegan Quinn’s cabinet on a salary of €120,000 plus expenses. [which is great, but the Seanad salary isn’t bad either – wbs]

Not a happy article it has to be said, I’m told the Wicklow Times ain’t a fan… hence…

The Green party member of Seanad Éireann will turn her back on national politics and take up residence in Brussels…

While it is unclear at present what the exact nature of the politician’s new role will be, Senator de Burca’s background in psychology and education may come into play.

The move may be seen by many in Co. Wicklow as history repeating itself as Senator de Burca, who was an elected member of both Wicklow County Council and Bray Town Council, walked away from local politics when she failed to get elected to the Dáil in the last General Election.

Of course, all this was idle speculation, and… the Senator wisely did not give in to media pressure, for as noted…

When contacted by the Wicklow Times, Senator de Burca did not deny claims that she would not be continuing her role as Senator in the New Year.

“I am under pressure for time. Goodbye,” was her reply.

Gnomic – eh? Though for those who have met her this brusqueness will be not be entirely out of character (I was slightly amused by an anecdote Dave Cochrane put up on Politics.ie where he said that he’d always found her perfectly friendly, until one time when he greeted her as ‘Deirdre’ and was immediately corrected ‘That’s Senator de Búrca’ or somesuch). I’m always mindful, when de Búrca’s name comes to mind, of the experience of various activists from one campaign or another who could never quite square the individual they knew back when with the one who more recently manifested herself. It might have been the precipitous changes in policy, or attitude or whatever. Where had the real de Búrca gone they would ask, puzzled? Others who encountered her in her more recent incarnation and remembered well the previous one had different and rather more uncharitable analyses…

Although… er… hold on though… there was a connection between MGQ and DDB, at least in one persons mind – for:

Responding to suggestions that Ms de Búrca may have been disappointed by not being included in Máire Geoghegan-Quinn’s incoming EU Commission cabinet, [Trevor] Sargent said Ms de Búrca did, at the time, express  interest in such a role.

He said Mr Gormley and Taoiseach Brian Cowen were supportive of the proposal, but he insisted it was up to the commissioner, an independent office, to make her own decision.

“It was not something that could have been guaranteed or delivered in the way of a party political position,” he said.

Which is true. But expectation makes fools of many of us… George Lee can vouch for that. And so the story that does not quite dare to speak its name shambles into the light…

So, for the interested but detached observer, what is to be made of all this? Or to put it another way, where does the balance of probability lie?

There are further clues.

Reading her letter of resignation.. helpfully put up on her website this morning so we could all have a goo, there are those, and they’d not be restricted to Green Party members, whose eyebrows might be raised by one or two of the thoughts contained therein.

I regret to say that I can no longer support the Green Party in government, as I believe that we have gradually abandoned our political values and our integrity and in many respects have become no more than an extension of the Fianna Fail party. I have had a number of conversations with you as Party Leader over many months now about my growing discomfort with the decisions that the Green Party has been supporting in government. You have been very aware of my frustration with the fact that despite the Green Party holding the balance of power in this government for some time now, our willingness to try to exercise that influence appears to grow less with every passing week.

And although this is couched in terms that quite bluntly engage with John Gormley as leader of the GP and with a few curious throwaway comments added in for good measure…

Despite the fact that you have been asked on many occasions over the past few months by the Parliamentary Party to take a stronger line with Brian Cowen and the Fianna Fail party in relation to certain core issues, you have clearly been unable, or unwilling to do so. Unfortunately the effect of this unwillingness to act is that the Green Party has been slowly haemhorraging support because of a growing public perception that we have lost the courage of our convictions and have become no more than an obedient ‘add-on’ to Fianna Fail. For example, I am aware that you as Minister have a key report in front of you from Dr Niamh Brennan on the issue of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. I’m afraid I lack the confidence that the findings of this report will be acted on in the timely and appropriate manner that the public interest requires.

…one searches in vain for evidence in public pronouncements that this agony of indecision was reflected outwardly over the course of the last year or two. And it’s not as if there weren’t chances to do so. Party Conventions, NAMA, the revised Programme for Government and not least a certain Budget late last year. A set of European and Local elections.

As for the charges about Fianna Fáil. Well, probably overstated, but who outside of the already convinced (or unconvinced) will have their opinion altered an iota about that party. Indeed, ironically, it might just be the sort of thing to shore up Cowen in the minds of his own. For the Green Party, not great news, although they may be fortunate that this happened this week, but all in all a very happy week for Fianna Fáil.

Her last two contributions to the Seanad, not huge in volume it must be admitted during her time there, referenced the GP as recently as 21st of January…

Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security: Motion.

I welcome the Minister of State and the opportunity to discuss this motion on a new Council standing committee on internal security, COSI. The shift within the provisions of the Lisbon treaty to a much more genuinely European or Community approach to justice and home affairs, as opposed to the more traditional inter-governmental approach, was supported and welcomed by the Green Party.

And there was even a kind word for the Minister of State in Agriculture on the 26th of January. And not only him…

I welcome the Minister of State. I also welcome the opportunity to engage in the (Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009:) Second Stage debate on the Bill. As Senator Glynn said, the legislation is very welcome because it is long overdue, as most of us would accept. Both of the Minister’s immediate predecessors in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government had spoken about their intent to introduce legislation in this area. I give credit to the Minister, Deputy Gormley, because he is the one who has done something. He has acted and introduced the legislation.

But a perusal of the Press Releases on her website indicates that they ended on September 30th last year. It is surely entirely coincidental that the (second) vote on the Lisbon Treaty was held on the 2nd of October 2009.

The future? Well, truth is – as has been discovered by almost all who have walked away, that while many would argue there’s not much life inside the party, there’s surely none at all outside it. It seems implausible even given her erstwhile albeit rapidly diminishing appetite for elections that she will appear under a new flag any time soon. Her record so far has been unfortunate. Others will have noted that. And in two weeks, or a month or whenever… events will have moved on.

Which makes the following an interesting exercise, whether she follows her own proscriptions, offered to former GP MEP Patricia McKenna, in the wake of the GP vote in favour of Lisbon as when she said on July 19th of last year…

Responding to Patricia McKenna’s comments today, Green Party European affairs spokesperson, Senator Deirdre de Burca said:
“I am disappointed but not unduly surprised by Patricia McKenna’s comments about the Green Party’s decision on the EU Lisbon Treaty. The proposal to support a Yes in the forthcoming Lisbon referendum campaign was endorsed by two thirds of Party members after a full and balanced debate.
“Patricia McKenna left the Green Party some time ago. When she made that decision she lost the right to criticise the internal debates and procedures of an organisation to which she no longer belongs. Perhaps it is time for her to move on and concentrate on her own career”

An interesting analysis here…


1. Another nail in the coffin for the Glasaigh « Splintered Sunrise - February 13, 2010

[…] More on this, as ever, at Cedar Lounge. […]


2. De Burca’s Gone | Stephen Spillane - February 13, 2010

[…] Area woman offers principled resignation from current job – after NAMA… after the PfG&#8… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]


3. dublindilettante - February 13, 2010

Some very assiduous legwork, there, WBS, it amazes me that you get on top of these things so quickly.

De Burca is now in a position equivalent to that of a Big Brother evictee or celebrity adulteress; she’s got about a week to ten days in which to portray herself in the desired light and capitalise on the media buzz, otherwise she’ll be forgotten.

For my own mischievous reasons, I hope she gets lauded for her principled stand (I have done so myself with GP-aligned acquaintances.) If she does, it may implant some doubts in the minds of wavering parliamentary party members, if only in hope of saving their own political skin. Let’s face it, it’s not like unprincipled and compliant political opportunists are going to have a dearth of options inside the Dáil…


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2010

Ah, I’ve kept an eye on DDB for quite some time now.

That’s true, ten days, if even, or she’s toast. But here’s another thought to add to the ones above. She could have gone with McKenna, or Maher, or… but she didn’t and as splintered sunrise suggested she never would. Which tells its own story.

Another thought again. I’m amazed by a perception on the part of someone that almost from the off in one job it would be appropriate to start canvassing for another…


4. CL - February 13, 2010

Slow leakage. Will the Greens stay the course? You can get 11/4 from Paddy Power that there’ll be a general election before the end of 2010. These odds might begin to tighten. Although Paul Gogarty was not amused. Might be worth a flutter of a few falling-in-value euros.


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2010

Those are interesting odds, but I’d be dubious that there will be an election. Who benefits, bar the opposition. Given George’s leap over the wall and out that ups the govt. majority by 1. You can’t buy that sort of assist – well you can, but not so overtly…

Still, as you say, might be worth a flutter.


5. ejh - February 13, 2010

Patricia McKenna left the Green Party some time ago. When she made that decision she lost the right to criticise the internal debates and procedures of an organisation to which she no longer belongs

An interesting view.


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2010

Not without some merit though… I guess there’s a balance to be found. I think it’s justifiable to provide a critique. But… there’s also the point that people have the right in organisations (generally speaking) to organise them as they see fit…


ejh - February 13, 2010



WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2010

Still, where does one shift across a point from one stage to another. That’s where contention lies…


6. sonofstan - February 13, 2010

‘Area (wo)man’

Never gets old…


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2010

Is true!


7. CMK - February 13, 2010

Good riddance to bad rubbish. De Burca is a waste of political space and always has been. Having been privy to some of her earlier political mewlings and expressions of ambition it hasn’t surprised one bit that she ditched every one of her fervently expressed principles (EU treaties, Shannon, anti-globalisation, amongst others) once she got a sniff at office. Didn’t she express an interest in running for President, at one stage for f**ks sake!

Her ambition was always greater than her ability and it’s interesting that WbS last paragraph above has her advising Patricia McKenna to concentrate on her CAREER! That’s the nub of it for De Burca; politics was a career: you select those issues you think will sell and you build your ‘brand’ on them and hope it lands you in office. The fact that she did f**k all in the Seanad, as WbS points out, is a clear indication of her lack of substance. She got a decent platform from she could have pushed political issues; but no, once she got to the Seanad, she wanted Europe, once she got to Europe she would have wanted the Aras; if she got to the Aras she have wanted the UN Secretary Generalship etc, etc,

Any Green who held to the principles of the party would have gone by about mid-2008 or at the very latest after the bank guarantee. That she didn’t just shows that she has no real political substance and always was a charlatan. It doesn’t suprise me that upbraided people for not addressing her a ‘Senator De Burca’. What’s interesting about both Lee and De Burca is that when class conflict and capitalist crisis re-emerge with vigour as political issues, politically ambitious politicians with no substance have literally no purpose and role. Good riddance to bad rubbish!


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2010

That’s a very interesting analysis. Particularly the UN Secretary Generalship point. 🙂

On reflection though I’m not sure that it would have had quite the necessary profile.

I hasten to add that it is pure coincidence that my last paragraph reads the way it does and that I in no sense meant to indicate/imply or impute anything at all about her workload in the Seanad.

Ahem. Moving swiftly onwards.


CMK - February 13, 2010

But isn’t it interesting to compare De Burca’s soujourn in the Seanad with another fiercely ambitious female politician of an earlier generation. One who indeed went all the way to the Aras and to her present position in the UN hierarchy. At least Robinson used her time in the Seanad where, if memory serves, she did at least introduce various private members bills or legislative initiatives etc. I think she push legislation on contraception in her time in the Seanad; brave enough stuff for the times, whatever one’s opinion now of Robinson.

De Burca, by comparison, is an empty vessel who clearly just used one political office as a bridge to another, higher, office. To think of the countless thousands of activists in this country who could have used a Seanad seat as a platform for progressive politics and we end up with creatures like De Burca and Harris whinging and moaning.

Anyway, it’s interesting that Lee and De Burca had their hissy fits in the week after Tomas MacGiolla passed away – now that was a real politician.


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2010

That’s another very interesting analysis. Both re Robinson and Mac Giolla.


8. splinteredsunrise - February 13, 2010

And one suspects those GP types who have been resigning in different parts of the country and looking for a way to resurrect their politics won’t be dying to have her services. If she was offering them in the first place…


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2010

I wonder if there are sufficient of them in any case? Although where they go ultimately would be well worth parsing…


9. sonofstan - February 14, 2010

That’s the nub of it for De Burca; politics was a career: you select those issues you think will sell and you build your ‘brand’ on them and hope it lands you in office.

Yeah… reminded of Ciaran Cannon’s decision when he became the last PD leader to spend some time investigating whether the party ‘brand’ was still viable: he seemed to see it as a struggling business that needed to come up with a new plan in order to convince a bank manager. The fact that he was afterwards apparently able to consider joining Labour indicates a similar weird careerism.


Mark P - February 14, 2010

It also indicates something about the Irish party system. The differences come down to sensibilities and branding, rather than any political substance or principle.

Vincent Browne’s excellent and hilarious interview with then party leader Pat Rabbitte before the last general election encapsulated it perfectly – Rabbitte couldn’t find one thing that he stood for that a PD couldn’t also claim to believe in. Browne, to his credit, wasn’t shy about pointing that out.


10. Ian - February 14, 2010

. I’m always mindful, when de Búrca’s name comes to mind, of the experience of various activists from one campaign or another who could never quite square the individual they knew back when with the one who more recently manifested herself. It might have been the precipitous changes in policy, or attitude or whatever. Where had the real de Búrca gone they would ask, puzzled?
I think that some green parliamentary members have only just had this experience – despite the fact that many others realised long ago that Deirdres main concern in politics was her career


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: