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New Government has not had an ideal start, says Children’s Minister

Roderic O’Gorman has said his Green Party colleagues have to back the Government on votes.

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Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman (Julien Behal/PA)

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman (Julien Behal/PA)

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman (Julien Behal/PA)

The new Government has not had an ideal start, the Children’s Minister has said, and that his Green Party colleagues need to work on their communication.

On Thursday, two Green Party TDs, Neasa Hourigan and Joe O’Brien failed to back the Government’s position on a bill relating to evictions and rent freezes.

Green Party TD Roderic O’Gorman said he has been assured by them that they will not vote against the Government again.

“We need a united Government to deliver on the programme for government and that programme was ratified by our party members.

“Seventy six per cent in favour of it and there is a lot of really good things in it that our members support and I support, while there is stuff that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael members would find difficult,” he said.

“There is stuff that my party members and I find difficult, but our party membership gave us a mandate to enter that coalition government.

“We have to support the programme for Government and that means supporting the legislation that is provided.

“I know in the last number of weeks we have had a government that was formed in the middle of a pandemic.

“I know that the Government has had to have a lot to deal with this week and I know that is part of the reason why we have had these breakdowns in communication internally within the party and we have to do much more to address that,” he told Newstalk radio’s On The Record show.

“Going forward, I think it is absolutely essential that the entire Green Party and indeed all parties are supportive of the Government.”

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Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle for a cabinet meeting (Niall Carson/PA)

Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle for a cabinet meeting (Niall Carson/PA)

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Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle for a cabinet meeting (Niall Carson/PA)

On Saturday, Tanaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said the new Government got off to a “rocky start” and made “unforced errors”.

Mr O’Gorman said some of the Government’s mistakes have overshadowed its achievements.

“No, it hasn’t been an ideal start and the Government has made some mistakes.

“But I think where we have made mistakes, we have rectified them and while there have been mistakes there have been great successes – in particular with the success of the July stimulus plan,” he said.

Mr O’Gorman said the Green Party will use the summer recess to work on the party’s internal communication.

“We could have done a better job as regards to our internal communication and we will be working on that over the summer break. We need to ensure our parliamentary party are better functioning and fully prepared to engage with legislation, engage with our backbenches, members and TDs.”

We could have done a better job as regards to our internal communication and we will be working on that over the summer breakRoderic O'Gorman

Separately, Mr O’Gorman said he is committed to ending the Direct Provision system for asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers who were staying at a DP centre in the Skellig Star hotel in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry are to be moved.

A number of residents at the centre went on hunger strike saying they had been “traumatised” from living in the centre and wanted to be moved out immediately.

He said the hotel will stop being used as a DP centre by the end of the year and residents will be moved out by the end of the month.

“My focus will be on ending Direct Provision. The first step on that will be the publication of Catherine Day’s expert group.

“We will be publishing a White Paper by the end of the year and that will set out what we can do about accommodation and the steps as to how we get there.”

He said more translators will be made available to help people with the international protection process in order that applications for asylum can be processed in a more timely fashion.

PA