Byrne named Green Party candidate in Dublin Bay South as Chu loses out

Councillor chosen over Lord Mayor to contest seat in upcoming byelection

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu and Cllr Claire Byrne. The latter was seen as firmly in Green Party leader Eamon Ryan’s camp amid recent divisions in the party.  File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu and Cllr Claire Byrne. The latter was seen as firmly in Green Party leader Eamon Ryan’s camp amid recent divisions in the party. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Green Party’s leadership insisted divisions in the party are behind them as Councillor Claire Byrne was selected as their candidate for the Dublin Bay South byelection.

Ms Byrne defeated Dublin’s high profile Lord Mayor Hazel Chu at a selection convention on Friday evening.

Ms Byrne, who works as an assistant for party leader and sitting Dublin Bay South TD Eamon Ryan, now joins the field of candidates seeking to take the seat left vacant by former Fine Gael minister Eoghan Murphy.

Mr Ryan hailed Ms Byrne as someone who “knows the Oireachtas inside out” and said: “as a TD, she’d hit the ground running from day one.”

Seen as firmly in Mr Ryan’s camp amid recent divisions in the Greens, Ms Byrne previously insisted the selection convention would not be a “proxy war” between factions in the party.

Ms Chu, the party chairwoman, defied Mr Ryan earlier this year by running in the Seanad byelection as an Independent.

Her unsuccessful attempt to be elected to the Upper House exposed divisions in the party, with deputy leader Catherine Martin among those who signed her nomination papers.

Mr Ryan and Ms Martin were asked on Friday if the party is now unified and can go on to win the byelection.

“Yes, ” replied Mr Ryan.

“Absolutely” said his deputy.

Meanwhile, Ms Byrne said: “there’s nothing like an election” to bring a party together.

“I think the members in Dublin Bay South have spoken.

“They’ve chosen me as the candidate and I expect them and the wider party to really come together behind me to make sure that we win this seat.”

She praised Ms Chu as “an incredible Lord Mayor” who has a “really bright future”, saying it was a “tough competition” but she looks forward to getting out on the campaign trail with her.

Ms Martin said she was delighted to see “such a powerful woman” selected as the candidate and commiserated with Ms Chu, saying: “It’s only a postponement of brighter days.”

Mr Ryan, who said he had forgotten to mention Ms Chu in his initial remarks, added: “She will have her her day in the sun, she will run and get elected in the future.”

Ms Byrne said her focus as a TD would be on climate action and delivering the climate action plan at a local level, improving transport, greening the city and helping it to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said there is an “opportunity to rethink the city and create the city that we want to live in” so that it is affordable.

“We need a female voice back in the Dáil… one that’s in government, to really represent women.”

She also said she has been a campaigner for maternal care and breastfeeding support.

Ms Byrne was first elected to Dublin City Council in 2014 in the South East Inner City ward.

She topped the poll in the 2019 council elections, with 28 per cent of first preferences, amid a wave of support for Green candidates.

In a Twitter post Ms Chu congratulated Ms Byrne and wished her luck in the campaign.

She thanked party members who voted for her and said “there will most certainly be a next time.”

Meanwhile, Senator Lynn Boylan was officially nominated as Sinn Féin’s candidate on Friday night. “Nowhere is the crisis in housing more evident than in Dublin Bay South,” the former MEP said.

She said people are “saddled with out of control rents and a whole generation are locked out of home ownership... That must change”.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said in a statement that Ms Boylan “is the only credible voice for a new approach to housing in this election”.

Fine Gael is running barrister James Geoghegan, Fianna Fáil’s candidate is councillor and architectural historian Deirdre Conroy while Labour Senator Ivana Bacik is also vying for the seat.

Other candidates include Sarah Durcan of the Social Democrats, Brigid Purcell from People Before Profit and Independent councillor Mannix Flynn.

The byelection is expected to take place next month.