Eamon Ryan criticises Enda Kenny’s US speech

Green Party leader says ‘St Patrick would not like direct provision’ at party conference

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has suggested Taoiseach Enda Kenny's criticism of US president Donald Trump's stance on immigration is not consistent with his own policies, saying: "St Patrick would not be too happy with our current direct provision system."

In his leader's address at the Green Party's national convention in Waterford on Saturday evening, Mr Ryan said the two most urgent global issues, mass migration and climate change, were inextricably linked.

He said that this included refugees from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.

In a reference to the Taoiseach's speech in Washington, DC, during Mr Kenny's US visit last week, Mr Ryan said: "How we ourselves in Ireland manage migrants, we have to make sure that what we are doing matches what we are saying on the international stage.


“St Patrick would not be too happy with our current direct provision system. It has to go.”

Mr Ryan said he was shocked at the number of asylum-seekers the State was turning away, and he was “mortified” that the State was not moving towards the target of 0.7 per cent of national income for overseas development aid.

Referring to a video of Mr Kenny's speech, he said: "If we are going to go out [as] saints and scholars to 50 million people on YouTube, we cannot be the chancers of the world.

“That role has been taken up by the British foreign secretary, [Boris Johnson].

“He wants to steer Brexit to a race to the bottom that nobody can win.”

Mr Ryan said there could be no hard Borders following Brexit and that the Government needed to broaden its thinking and its approach to the issue.

“We have to think tactically about how we defeat Brexit ultras in the Tory party from crashing negotiations that will see Britain spinning out in a way that will be damaging to all of us,” he said.

Mr Ryan was speaking in front of about 200 delegates at the conference.

Climate change

During his speech, Mr Ryan said that if climate change was neglected, there would be no peace in the world.

“We have to provide stable environments in distant countries we know little about. We cannot stabilise without tackling climate change.”

The Dublin Bay South TD was highly critical of the Government’s record on climate change.

He said the draft national mitigation plan was "a non-plan" and that Minister for Transport Shane Ross did not care about sustainable transport.

“I am afraid the rest of the political system sees this transition [to sustainability] as a cost to be avoided,” he said.

Mr Ryan called for the immediate closure of ESB’s Moneypoint coal-power plant and of the peat-fueled power stations run by Bord na Móna.

He said his party would prioritise finding alternative livelihoods for the employees of those plants.

“There are no jobs on a dead planet. There is no green economy unless it is one that gives proper rewards for the workers who make it happen.

“We use the money to create jobs in local communities in deep retrofitting homes. It’s a win-win-win-win,” he said.

Mr Ryan argued for the expansion of wind energy and for more solar power.

He also said his party would campaign for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which bans abortion, but would do so in a respectful way.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times