Green Party needs to focus on more than climate change, says Catherine Martin

Delegates told it had been a difficult year and that decision to enter coalition was divisive

The Green Party needs to broaden its base and move away from being identified as a single-issue climate change party, deputy leader Catherine Martin said on Saturday evening.

In her keynote speech to the party's online convention Ms Martin said the Greens should not be defined by climate change alone but should also strive for social justice, inclusion, income inequality, fairness, and diversity.

At a time when membership was growing strongly, the party had been deeply divided over its direction in the past year, not only on whether to enter government but also on the leadership of Eamon Ryan.

In a speech which distinguished her political direction and priorities from that of Mr Ryan, Ms Martin said the Green Party was “not a single-issue party”.


“Unfortunately many others might not know or appreciate this. Notwithstanding that this single issue (climate change) is of course the greatest challenge facing humanity, social justice inextricably travels through the very core of ecological justice.”

Ms Martin accepted it had been a very difficult year for the party and said it had “lost some very good members, some because they didn’t’ agree with the decision we made to enter government.”

She said it was “not a perfect programme (for Government) and it is not a perfect or easy coalition.

“We have a particular responsibility to ensure that we stand up for green values and identity within government,” she said.

Nevertheless, she said she was proud of the open and democratic way the membership decided on coalition.

She said the party needed to appreciate diversity and empower the voice of the young and the marginalised in all its conversations.

In a nod to the difficulties of compromise in government, she said there would be” many difficult conversations over the next months and years”.

She said the party must keep fighting and campaigning for green change within government, be it part of the programme or not.

Defending the decision to enter the coalition, and in a dig at other parties to the left, she said: “When the country desperately needed a government, political and economic stability, the Green Party stepped up and we will continue to step up, putting country before party, people before politics.”

She also said the party had not connected properly to rural Ireland despite having so much in common with it in terms of values and outlook.

She said the situation where the Green Party was not trusted by rural Ireland needed to change.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times