“my hands are tied in this instance”

As Maman Poulet points out at IrishElection, the blogging TD, the Green Party’s John Gormley, is now the blogging Minister for the Enviornment and in his latest post he restates his argument that his hands are tied in regard to Dick Roche’s last decision as Minister for the Environment – a decision which someone decided not to tell anybody about until Bertie Ahern was confirmed as Taoiseach

“I spent all day Friday, right up until 11pm, Saturday morning and even parts of Sunday talking to archaeologists and legal people. I phoned the Attorney General at his home on Saturday. The official legal advice confirms that my hands are tied in this instance, despite what certain opposition parties are claiming.”

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  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Coming on the back of their ‘great deal’ this is very damaging for the Green/Naieve Party.

    And to think that the boy Gormless may even have missed part of mass on Sunday morning as he struggled with his conscience. It will be off to confession for him – bless me father but I missed part of mass as I was trying to save a national monument which I earlier agreed to destroy – no absolution from the earth god on that one.

    The cute hoors in FF and the shortsighted tuzzers who elected them will be sniggering every time a tree hugger is about the place.

  • joeCanuck

    Pontious Pilate comes to mind.

    Or, it wasn’t me Ma, a big boy did it and ran away.

  • confused

    I don’t believe his hands are tied.
    One minister made a decision and another one with the same mandate and authority can undo this. Is the Dail not supreme in these matters. Compensation may have to be made. It seems Gormley is running for cover because he now realises the responsibility he has to work with FF who would stitch him up.

  • The Dubliner

    Perhaps the minister who was in possession of all the facts and reports concerning the site (
    Dick Roche
    ) is the one best placed to make the decision:

    THREE weeks of rain would have completely washed away what remains of the Stone Age wooden ‘henge’ recently discovered in Meath, archaeological experts told former Environment Minister Dick Roche before he made his decision to build the M3 motorway over the monument.

    In his controversial last act as minister, Mr Roche opted to continue work on the Meath M3 motorway after consulting with experts. Mr Roche decided to accept the recommendation that the new National Monument found at Lismullen should be preserved ‘by record’ – in other words, studied in detail and then the motorway will be built as scheduled.

    A source close to the Minister suggested that there was nothing left to preserve at the Lismullen site but “a few holes in the ground”.

    “The site is on exceptionally sandy soil and would be washed away completely within weeks,” he said.

    The new Green Minister for Environment, John Gormley, has conceded that he could not revoke Mr Roche’s order.

    Mr Roche claimed he had done Mr Gormley a favour. “Any minister sitting in my office in the Custom House looking at that file and having to make a decision would have made the decision I have made. I did the man some service by not passing the buck,” he said.

    Despite the hysterical protests of the ill-informed and the irresponsible, the minister made the best decision on the basis of the information presented to him and in the national interest.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    the merits of the case are a separate issue from
    the uturn by the funny little green men and Gormless in particular – if it was important before the election it is important after it even if you have taken one up the jacksie from the warriors of corruption.

  • joeCanuck

    “Despite the hysterical protests of the ill-informed and the irresponsible, the minister made the best decision on the basis of the information presented to him and in the national interest.”

    And you know that how Dubliner?
    Because the ex-minister says so?

  • joeCanuck

    Oh sorry.

    A source close to the minister says so.

  • joeCanuck

    And from my admittedly meager knowledge (although I do subscribe to Archeology magazine) I think there are more than a few researchers who would be glad to give their eyeteeth for a “few holes in the ground”.

    Can you tell that I’m getting more and more uptight about this weaselness?
    Time to have a beer and switch on the Discovery channel.

  • susan

    Joe of the Canucks, this link is for you:


    I tried to edit Eilieen Battersby’s wonderfully researched piece on the archaelogical and historical significance of Tara from the Irish Times down to an appropriate length for a Slugger post, but I just couldn’t do it.

    It demands and deserves to be read in its entirety. I hope you enjoy it, Joe.

  • joeCanuck

    Thank you so much Susan for that link. I enjoyed it immensely. Can you send it to Gormley?
    I have visited Tara on one of my many trips to Irish historical sites during my biennial trips back but had no idea of that richness.



    Did anyone watch Q&A last night on RTE? Noel Dempsey was very clear when he said that the Green Party (including John Gormley remember) were told during negotiations that this decision was being made.

    The Green Party member from the audience whose question led to the comment was put out that the membership of the party hadn’t been told before voting on PfG, but that’s hardly FF or Dick Roche’s fault, is it?

  • mickhall

    “I don’t believe his hands are tied. ”


    I agree with you on this, governments do this all the time. However were the Greens to challenge this decision it would mean them confronting their FF partners in the coalition; and when they are tipped b o l l o c k s, they would have to decide whether to take the matter to the wire.

    If they failed to do this during the negotiations, can anyone really see Green ministers doing so from their comfy ministerial chair?

  • susan

    So glad you enjoyed the link, Joe — I absolutely knew you would.

    Gormley knows more than most of us put together about the significance of the Hill of Tara, and he’s been proactive for years in an effort to save it. In discussions with the press, post deal, the Greens did concede they had tried and failed to reroute the M3, and it seems obvious to me Gormley is “honouring” — for lack of a better word — the deal he made with FF.

    Labour’s Eamon Gilmore identified the specific statute of the Interpretation Act 2005 he feels proves Gormley’s hands are not tied.

    This is a link to the specific statute —


    To me, it seems relevant. I’d be interested in a technical explanation of why the statute is not relevant, if indeed it is not — Gormley’s blog is remarkably vague and neither quotes nore identified even one of the “experts” he claims he consulted.

    I expect Labour and SF to tear the Greens to pieces over this and other aspects of the deal. As someone pointed out to me, in the Programme for Government every “concession” from FF to the Greens is really only a promise to “consider.”

    Gormley will now serve as a “heat shield” for critics of FF, in the way McDowell did in the previous government. Probably not for as long, though.

  • snakebrain

    “A source close to the Minister suggested that there was nothing left to preserve at the Lismullen site but “a few holes in the ground”.

    “The site is on exceptionally sandy soil and would be washed away completely within weeks,” he said.”

    Those with any interest in archaeology will undoubtedly be aware that post holes, and the information that can be deduced from their placement and configuration, are one of our primary sources of information on the Iron Age. To dismiss this evidence as “a few holes in the ground” is misinformation of the highest order.

    As to the soil of the site, the universally recognised solution to the danger of erosion of sites like this one is to keep them covered. Exposing them to the elements will destroy them. Of course, if you’re set on their destruction anyway…

    I too would be very interested to know what “The official legal advice confirms”, and why it has not been published in a matter of national interest.

  • susan

    Snakebrain, supposedly the Lismullen site is…er, was… something along the lines of Emain Macha, which you might be familiar with, before the Lismullen became so degraded by exposure.

    In and of itself, perhaps, Lismullen was not awe-inspiring, but viewing the site in isolation rather than as part of a much larger, irreplaceable archeological landscape seems like another bit of misleading misinformation.

  • Ian

    See the following discussion re: the chief archaeologist at the Dept of Environment & Heritage, who it is claimed has no post-graduate qualifications in archaeology but was appointed despite this by… the former Minister for Transport!:


  • Ian

    See also:


    which contains an article from Ireland on Sunday, you can get the gist from the first paragraph:

    “Major developers who are also financial backers of Fianna Fáil stand to make millions from the controversial M3 motorway which conservationists say will destroy the historic Hill of Tara.”

  • I would be interested to hear from a Green party member about how this is going down amongst the rank and file.


  • susan

    Good one, Ian. The politics.ie discussion doesn’t have a link to the Irish Times article they cite as evidence that Brian Duffy has only a basic degree, but I was able to find a link to an edited version of the Times article of 12.05.05 here that completely backs up the claim:


    The discussion you linked also includes a c & p of a letter signed by 30 leading international archaelogists and academics from many disciplines — (perhaps this is who Dubliner was referring to as “the ill-informed and irresponsible”)– on the importance of Tara, published in yesterday’s Irish TImes.

  • The Dubliner

    Joe, the person charged with making the decision is the minister. He has studied all of the official reports and submissions and made his decision based on them and in the national interest. You can second guess him all you wish, but he has the facts, the democratic mandate, and the authority to make the decision (neither of which you or anyone other second-guesser has).

    (Cue the usual sterotypical loony-left talk of corrupt property developers and bogmen mentalities)

  • joeCanuck

    Dubliner, I wish I could share you faith in the infallibility of government ministers.

    Anyway, this thread was not about the decision but about whether or not the new Minister could override the ex-minister.
    He claims that his hands are tied but from watching governments in action for 50 odd years, there are countless occasions when decisions of a previous government are overturned or laws are repealed.
    If he truly believes that he is powerless, then I would suggest that he is not fit, intellectually or politically, to be a government Minister. Otherwise he is a puppet and should be ashamed of himself.