Green Party set sights on tripling number of TDs, councillors
Leader Eamon Ryan says Greens well positioned to to make big gains in elections
Eamon Ryan with Catherine Martin: Mr Ryan says the Greens are well positioned to make considerable gains in the local elections in 2019, and in the next general election. Photograph: Eric Luke
The Green Party is aiming to treble the number of TDs and councillors it has to six and 36 respectively in the next election cycle.
As the party commenced a special meeting in Blanchardstown, Dublin, on Friday night, ahead of the return of the Dáil, party leader Eamon Ryan said the Greens were well positioned to make considerable gains in the local elections in 2019, and in the general election, whenever that was held.
“We are in a good place in terms of the strength of the party. Our membership has doubled [to 1,800] in the past two years. We have a settled team in the Oireachtas, supported by a very strong team.”
At present the party has two Dáil deputies (Mr Ryan and Catherine Martin); one Senator, Grace O’Sullivan, and 12 county councillors. That represents a partial comeback for the party which saw its council reduced to three in the 2009 local elections, and lost all its six TDs in the 2011 general election.
Mr Ryan said the primary focus for the party would be the environment and climate change.
“I looked at the Taoiseach’s speech to the Fine Gael think-in. He did not mention the environment once.
“When he became Taoiseach he said he would make climate change a priority... Like the Origin Green ads [for Irish agriproduce], it is all branding and no substance,” he said.
Mr Ryan said that given Ireland had missed out on the first industrial revolution, there was no reason why it should miss out on what he called the “clean green industrial revolution”. He said the Government should be focusing on renewable energy and on zero emission transport.
“We in the Greens will target a younger audience and will be able to answer their questions about work and jobs, which can happen in that clean and industrial green revolution.”
Mr Ryan said the record of the Government was poor. No solar power was being developed, the insulation programmes had been halved and the Coalition was doing “nothing” on offshore energy.
“The climate plan has huge gaps. In transport, there is not a single rail project ready to go to tender. The only cycling project ready to go is the Royal Canal path from Spencer Dock to Lucan Bridge.
“We spent five years working on a cycle lane for the Liffey quays and now it is back to the drawing board because of lobbying.”
Mr Ryan accused Minister for Transport Shane Ross of being completely absent from the climate debate and claimed he had “abdicated responsibility” in the area.
The think-in, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown, continues on Saturday.