Party counts cost of heavy election defeat

 

GREEN PARTY:THE UPHILL battle the Green Party faces to rebuild following its electoral wipeout became an even bigger challenge after it emerged that its 1.8 per cent of the vote nationally is insufficient to recoup its electoral expenses.

The party lost all six Dáil seats, garnering a total of just 41,040 first preference votes for all 43 candidates who stood for election. It had prepared itself for a devastating result but clung to the hope that Trevor Sargent might keep his seat, with an outside chance Eamon Ryan might also survive in Dublin South.

Instead the party’s vote crumbled, down 2.8 points on 2007 and just shy of the 2 per cent it needed to reclaim election costs.

Outside the RDS count in Dublin on Saturday night, party leader and former minister for the environment John Gormley acknowledged it was a “sad day for the party. We have suffered a major defeat. But the party will regroup. We will continue. We’re a party with a set of beliefs and values and a vision for the future.”

Asked if he would remain on as party leader, the former Dublin South East TD said: “We’re not making any rash decisions. We’re a united party. We’re going to sit down together to discuss all of these issues and see how we can rebuild this party as quickly as possible.”

Under Green Party rules a leadership convention must be held within six months, but former minister for communications Eamon Ryan said that was not a big issue at the moment. “I don’t think the initial focus should be on the leadership. There is a bigger and wider issue of reflection.” The former Dublin South TD said that in his own constituency he lost out to Independent Shane Ross who had the “George Lee factor” and “when you’re swimming against the tide, no matter how well you swim it doesn’t get you anywhere”.

Former Dublin Mid-West TD Paul Gogarty conceded defeat only an hour after the count was opened. “Once your strong area where you normally get 20 per cent is down to 5 per cent or 6 per cent, you know the result,” he said.

He described the election outcome as “a bit like the witch trials of the 16th century. If you drown when you’re dunked in the water you’re innocent but if you survive you’re burnt at the stake because the devil is keeping you alive.”

Repeatedly insisting the party would “rebuild” and would not go the way of the Progressive Democrats, Mr Gormley said it had been a very difficult period over the last number of years.

“We’ve been associated with a government that had to make very difficult decisions and as a result we’ve had to endure this defeat.”

But he added: “We’re here as a unique party in Irish politics. We were there before the PDs. We’re outlasting them and we will continue because we have a core set of values and and beliefs.”