Green Party rules may allow leadership contest to be delayed
Party may delay leadership contest until after programme for government is negotiated
Eamon Ryan: he is said to have very strong support within parliament
A peculiarity in the wording of the Green Party’s rules on a leadership contest has allowed it, effectively, to delay the contest until after all programme for government negotiations have concluded.
The party’s constitution provides that the leadership of the party must be decided six months after a general election. The closing date for nominations is next Sunday, June 7th, at 11pm. A potential candidate must receive the support of 50 members before to be eligible.
As of now it is certain that deputy leader Catherine Martin has received sufficient nominations – she will have upwards of 150. Party leader Eamon Ryan will also have no difficulty reaching the threshold from among the 3,000 members.
However, while the nominations close on Sunday night, the rules are silent on declarations. Therefore no potential candidates will be required to declare this weekend.
Party officials will use this lacuna as a device to separate the leadership contest from the ongoing programme for government negotiations over fears of what one source described as “cross-contamination”.
In effect, it will allow the party to put a stay on any potential leadership contest until July.
A source said: “The thinking is that candidates might be asked not to declare until after the special convention is held [providing one is held].”
Potential candidates will be informed early next week if they have reached the required threshold. The expectation is they will be Mr Ryan and Ms Martin.
The Irish Times understands from a reliable source who is a supporter of the deputy leader that Ms Martin will likely decide to declare her candidacy given the volume of nominations she has received. However, not immediately.
“The Greens do leadership contests differently than others. It will not rip the party apart. It’s not Colley versus Haughey [the infamous personalised tussles between George Colley and Charles Haughey for leadership of Fianna Fáil].
“The leadership contest will be decided on policy, on the direction of the party, about who is best at communicating its message, and if the party could perform better under a new leader.”
The source claimed while Mr Ryan had very strong support within parliament, Ms Martin could claim stronger rank-and-file backing.
Among the party’s wider membership, those who support or oppose a leadership contest are roughly divided along the lines of who is in favour of government negotiations and who is opposed.
Younger and more left-leaning members of the party tend to favour a contest. Those in favour of going into government tend to see the contest as an unhelpful distraction that will weaken the party’s hand.
“I am a complete outlier,” said one councillor. “I am a really strong supporter of Eamon Ryan as leader, but I am opposed to the Greens going into government.”
Another member who favours the party going into government said: “The timing is inopportune. The constitution says that this is when we should have the contest, but I thought it should have been deferred.
“I am pleasantly surprised it does not seem to be as divisive as I am reading in the media. Perhaps we should just vote and see who wins and move on from there.”
A Dublin-based member opposed to going into government said it was good for the party to have a debate on its direction, saying it would be a “respectful contest” not a “bloodbath”.
If the contest goes ahead after negotiations conclude there will have to be remote hustings and a postal ballot.
The party has decided ballots have to be in by July 22nd, with the count on July 23rd. The result would be expected by July 24th.