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Eamon Ryan says any ‘perceived’ links between Sinn Féin and Hutch gang are bad for politics

He said the public will ultimately decide what standards apply to political parties.

Wayne O'ConnorSunday World

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said any perceived connections with criminality are not good for the political system and must be called out.

He said the public will ultimately decide what standards apply to political parties.

Mr Ryan was speaking at his party’s annual convention in Athlone on Saturday after the Special Criminal Court this week heard a former Sinn Féin councillor was secretly recorded claiming Mary Lou McDonald used the Hutch family for money and votes.

The court heard Jonathan Dowdall, a former Dublin City councillor, was recorded criticising Ms McDonald for not going to the funeral of the brother of murder accused Gerry 'The Monk’ Hutch.

Dowdall was heard in the recording telling Hutch she stayed away from the funeral “but yous were good enough Gerard to use for votes, yous were good enough to use for money.”

The garda recording was played at the Special Criminal Court.

When Mr Ryan was asked if he was concerned about what was heard in Court, he said “politics of division and the negative politics we see some planning” was not something his party engaged in but any perceived connections with criminality were not good for the political system.

“We obviously call out if there’s any criminality or if there’s instances in public life where people are not living up to proper standards, you call it out,” he added.

“Any sort of connection with such criminality, it’s not good for our political system for that to be seen and that to be understood to be true, but I think our job is not to double down on some of the populist rhetoric, it is to work with everyone to make this transformation we need. We manage our own affairs, trying to make sure that we are up to the best standards, and let the public decide what standards apply in other parties. They are the judge in the end.”

The Green Party’s annual convention is taking place in person for the first time in three years.

It started on Friday night with discussions on housing and sustainable communities and will continue until Sunday.

Mr Ryan declined to rule out that developers could benefit from tax breaks in future, amid huge pressure on the housing system with too few homes to meet demand and rising input costs for builders.

He said the Government will “look at every different option” and is “willing to invest particularly in getting local authorities” to develop build-to-rent projects. The investment will include “€100 million support for local government to give them the ability to try and access and free up land”.

“Everyone acknowledges we have a real crisis in our housing, we do have to deliver for our young people a whole tranche of new housing solutions, that’s what we were debating here last night,” he said.

“We’ve given a clear signal that we’ll be willing to step in and invest in new housing solutions, working in the market and with the market.

“I wouldn’t rule out further measures. We will do everything to make sure we start getting supply, particularly in difficult times like this, when high interest rates, high costs of construction due to global supply chain issues, are making it very hard. So we’re not stopped, we’re not satisfied in an any way ruling anything further out.”

Mr Ryan also said he sees wind and solar power playing a more significant part in Ireland’s future energy needs, and that he believes 10pc of the electorate will support the party in upcoming elections.

“I think if we can show delivery for the Irish people, that improves the quality of life as well as addressing the big challenge of our time, I’m absolutely confident that they will, that we can get those numbers.”

When asked if Twitter's global vice-president for public policy Sinead McSweeney was doing the Government’s job in challenging the company’s treatment of staff, Mr Ryan said he thinks most governments would struggle with the challenge posed by Twitter.

Ms McSweeney has secured a temporary injunction from the High Court preventing Twitter from terminating her employment.

“We’re not going to be able to accept what Elon Musk does or what he is or isn’t doing, but we’ve been very strong in saying how unhappy we are. There are basic rules in this country and standards in terms of how we work – we work in social partnership, we work with government, with trade unions, with employers,” Mr Ryan added.

“We’re not going to go in and run Twitter for the company, but we are going to call out and will act as appropriate in supporting workers’ rights in this country.”

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