Green Party ‘to move on from recent events’ with review of nominations

Row eases over Dublin Mayor Hazel Chu’s decision to stand for Seanad byelection as an independent

The  Green Party’s executive committee decided not to follow the parliamentary party in calling for Dublin Mayor Hazel Chu to step aside as party chair during her bid for a Seanad seat. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The Green Party’s executive committee decided not to follow the parliamentary party in calling for Dublin Mayor Hazel Chu to step aside as party chair during her bid for a Seanad seat. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

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The row in the Green Party over Dublin Mayor Hazel Chu’s decision to stand for the Seanad byelection as an independent eased over the weekend when the party’s executive committee decided to review its nominations procedures.

At a meeting on Saturday, the committee decided not to follow the parliamentary party in calling for Ms Chu to step aside as party chair during her bid for a Seanad seat. Instead, it has ordered a review of how Seanad byelection candidates are selected.

In a statement to members, the committee said it believes the review will “allow us to move on from recent events, while ensuring that any such incidents are avoided in future”.

“I’m happy the executive has dealt with this issue and I will continue to serve the party in the position of chair as best I can,” Ms Chu told The Irish Times.

A senior party figure who has clashed with Ms Chu expressed the hope that the row which has engulfed the party in recent weeks would be defused.

Party leader Eamon Ryan had wanted his TDs and senators to vote for Coalition candidates in the expectation they would support a Green candidate should another vacancy arise during the lifetime of the Government. The party decided not to stand any candidate in the forthcoming byelection.

But Ms Chu was determined to stand and deputy leader Catherine Martin and other TDs signed her nomination papers. At a subsequent showdown at the parliamentary party, a majority of Green Oireachtas members called for Ms Chu to step aside as chair.

Under party rules, the parliamentary party does not have the power to force her to do this and though the result was communicated to the party’s executive, it was not compelled to act on it.

The committee met on Saturday and the Green Party’s national coordinator Bláithín Gallagher issued a statement to members afterwards that had been “unanimously” agreed.

The statement says the executive “acknowledges that the issue of candidacy for the Seanad byelection has led to a difficult period for the party”.

The statement adds: “The EC believes that it is important to focus on our future, to learn lessons from this process and to clarify procedures used by the party on matters relating to Seanad byelections.”

It says the EC has decided to commission a review “to improve processes and procedures for future Seanad byelections.

‘No women’

In recent days Ms Chu has said that “the numbers aren’t there” for her to win a Seanad seat.

Her comments came after Sinn Féin decided to back Independent candidate Billy Lawless.

She said: “As much as I would have loved to win I also knew going into it that winning wasn’t the reason I was going for it.”

She said she knew the Seanad bid was going to be a “no hoper” when she decided to run but she’s still glad she did and she is not withdrawing from the race.

Ms Chu said she launched her campaign as “in 2021 there shouldn’t be no woman on the ballot” and also because there should be people from minorities running to help ease divisions in Irish society.

The electorate for the byelection is 218 TDs and Senators.