Eamon Ryan says the Green Party could win three MEP seats

Party leader praises performance of Saoirse McHugh in Prime Time debate

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has predicted the party could win three European election seats and easily more than double its representation in local authorities.

At the party’s closing press conference in Dublin, Mr Ryan said the party was already in with a good chance in two of the three European constituencies. And with the strong performance of its candidate Saoirse McHugh in the Midlands North West debate on RTÉ last night, he now believed three seats were possible.

“I think we can win all three southern constituencies,” he said.

“We feel that we have a chance in Dublin, in Ireland South and we put it to anyone who watched the debate last night that we now have a real chance in Midlands North West.”


He said if the party were to return MEPs it would contribute to the key debate on where the next European parliament will go.

“Is it going to go right wing or will we have a progressive co-operative agenda which we support?”

The conference was attended by only one of its European candidates, Dublin-based Ciarán Cuffe, as the other two continue to canvass.

Echoing predictions of a strong election for the party, Mr Ryan, deputy leader Catherine Martin and party chairman Roderic O’Gorman all said this had been the party’s strongest campaign to date.

Mr O’Gorman said that for the first time canvassers had heard middle-aged parents saying their children had asked them to vote Greens. “Even grandparents say their grandchildren, who are too young to vote, want them to support us because of climate change.

Mr Ryan said that climate change, for long a peripheral issue in Irish politics, was now centre stage. Ms Martin said a sign of that was that all parties were now “greening” their policies.

Asked if the Green Party itself had softened its policies or compromised on principles to make it more election friendly, Mr Ryan disagreed. He said there was a fundamental shift towards climate change that was coming from the public and the Greens had called for all the hard measures to achieve that, including an end to fossil fuel exploration, a radical change in transport policy, in agriculture, in energy and in waste.

He said the party’s approach was to co-operate: “Somtimes you have got to dance and get in on the dance and work with people and slowly and surely we are taking the people out of climate denial,” he said.

The party also hopes to increase its number of councillors from 12 to at least 24. There are indications that the party will elected councillors in many Dublin local electoral areas. Ms Martin said the party has a team of councillors in several local authorities.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times