Green deputy leader giving ‘serious consideration’ to challenging Ryan

Catherine Martin thanked members ‘who have asked me to contest’ party leadership

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan with his deputy,   Catherine Martin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan with his deputy, Catherine Martin. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin has said she is giving “serious consideration” to standing against Eamon Ryan but said any contest must wait until after the current government formation process is concluded.

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Ms Martin said: “Thank you to the Green Party members who have asked me to step up and contest the upcoming leadership election.

“Members and their volunteerism are, as we know, the lifeblood and democratic heartbeat of our party and I will therefore give this serious consideration over the coming number of days.

“However, my focus remains on the crucial government formation talks. In the event of a leadership contest arising, I believe it is important that government formation talks fully conclude uninterrupted and that any leadership campaign happens subsequently.

“In the meantime I will continue to give my all to leading these negotiations while also listening to our membership about the future direction of our party and my role in it.”

Green Party rules say a leadership election must be held within six months of a general election. The 2020 general election was held in February.

Nominations for the position opened on Wednesday, and the final date for nominations is June 7th. A period of hustings and debates will follow, with postal ballots sent to members on July 1st.

Ballot papers must be returned by July 22nd, with the count taking place the following day.

Carlow Kilkenny TD Malcolm Noonan said Mr Ryan has his “full support” and that the Dublin Bay South TD had picked the party “off the floor” following the 2011 general election, when the party lost all six of its Dáil seats. It now has 12 seats.

Dublin West’s Roderic O’Gorman also said Mr Ryan will have his full support if there is a contest.

Waterford TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh said questions around the leadership are an “unwelcome distraction from the important job of work we have in front of us at the moment”.

“Eamon has led us from our lowest ebb to our best ever electoral results in both local and national elections,” he said. “Now is not an opportune time to consider changing leadership.”

Wicklow TD Steven Mathews also said Mr Ryan has his support, as did Senator Pippa Hackett.

Clare councillor Roisín Garvey said: “Now is not the time to be discussing leadership of any kind.”

Both Ms Martin and Mr Ryan attended negotiations on climate policy on Tuesday, where all parties reaffirmed their commitment to the Greens’ goal of reducing carbon emissions by 7 per cent per year. However, it is understood discussions on what such a target means in policy terms will not begin until later this week.

Ms Martin, a TD for Dublin Rathdown, was against entering coalition talks with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Meanwhile, Cork city and county Green Party councillors Oliver Moran, Colette Finn, Lorna Bogue and Liam Quaide have written to Ms Martin to encourage her to challenge Mr Ryan’s leadership.

In an interview with the Opinion Line, on Cork’s 96FM, Cllr Bogue emphasised that it was not a question of them having no confidence in Mr Ryan.

“We are all very grateful to Eamon and we think he has done a really brilliant job over the last 10 years bringing us to the position where we currently are at,” she said.

“When people start looking at leadership elections people think it is all very House of Cards. It isn’t at all. It is actually just about having the best person for the role.”

She said the people who wrote the party constitution could never have foreseen a situation where the country would be six months from an election and without a government.

A potential candidate only needs the support of 50 members to enter the leadership race. The Greens have 2,700 members, up from 700 two years ago.

Sources say that nominations will open in the coming days and that more than 100 members have already contacted party officials suggesting that Ms Martin should stand.