Green Party leader: Hackett announces she is entering race against O’Gorman

Eamon Ryan, who resigned on Monday, said he would remain ‘completely neutral’ with majority of party’s councillors supporting O’Gorman

Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman and Senator Pippa Hackett have both declared their candidacy to become the new Green Party leader. Photograph: Gareth Chaney & Stephen Collins/Collins

Minister of State Pippa Hackett has announced she is entering the race to be leader of the Green Party. She told Newstalk Radio that after the departure of Eamon Ryan as leader she believed “a fresh start is needed and I believe I can be that fresh start”.

Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman has also announced his candidacy for leadership of the Green Party, following the shock resignation of Eamon Ryan, with 12 of the party’s 23 councillors declaring support for him by Wednesday evening, compared to just one for Ms Hackett.

Mr O’Gorman said: “I am running for leader, after 24 years of Green Party membership, to build a party that can win across this country, and deliver on our ambitions.”

As he sought the support of party colleagues Mr O’Gorman he said two beliefs have stayed with him over more than two decades in politics.


The first is there must be “a strong Green Party in Ireland to put environment at the centre of public discussion and of political decision making”.

He said the Greens have “never been a single-issue party” and it has “always fought for social justice, for families, for the most vulnerable.

“We implement policies that have real meaningful and positive impacts on people’s lives.

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“I’ve halved the cost of childcare, increased paid leave for parents, tackled the gender pay gap, introduced world-leading domestic violence leave and led the humanitarian effort in responding to Ukrainian refugees.”

Ms Hackett said she was not a “conventional Green”.

“I live in rural Ireland. I’m a beef and sheep farmer. I’m also a mother. I’ve also been in Cabinet for the last four years,” she said.

She pointed out that the party had never had a non-Dublin leader, or a woman leader. “I believe I can offer perspective and certainly my different life experiences can make the Green Party relevant and relatable,” she said.

Asked to identify the biggest challenge for the new leader she said the party has been successful at influencing policy but not so successful at influencing people.

“That’s something I want to change. I think that is a challenge. Obviously at a basic level rightly or wrongly many people have become fearful of Green policy. That’s certainly not what we want to achieve,” she said.

Ms Hackett said the party’s policies have to work for ordinary people. “They have to be easy and they have to be affordable and I think that would be the focus I would take,” she said.

She said she is “prepared to work really hard at building relationships across communities across Ireland” including with farmers, rural communities and business. “I want to work really hard to regain that trust again,” she said.

Two Green Party Oireachtas members were the first out of the blocks to support Ms Hackett.

Senator Pauline O’Reilly told Virgin television on Wednesday morning that she would back Ms Hackett – who has not officially declared but is widely expected to run – for the role. Shortly afterwards junior minister and Dún Laoghaire TD Ossian Smyth said he would also back Ms Hackett, and offered himself as deputy leader.

Ms O’Reilly said on Tuesday morning that she will support Ms Hackett in the leadership race as she was “the only one from outside Dublin”.

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Ms O’Reilly said it was essential there be a “rebalancing” of the party. “Because I think what we have seen as people speak about the Green Party is that we don’t understand what it’s like to live outside Dublin and that’s not correct, but we have to address that, really meet people’s concerns where they are.”

On Morning Ireland, Mr Smyth also gave his support to Ms Hackett and said he would like to be considered for the deputy leader position.

“I think that she is the person to lead the party. She hasn’t said that she would, but if she’s listening now, I’d like her to consider running,” he said.

Mr Smyth said the party “needs a big change” and would benefit among rural voters from having a rural-based candidate such as Ms Hackett, who he described as a “beef and sheep farmer” from Co Offaly as leader. “We need something completely different,” he said.

Limerick City TD Brian Leddin has also said he will be supporting Ms Hackett if she puts her name forward.

He said: “All of our leaders have been from Dublin, and there’s a very strong narrative the party is Dublin-centric.

Waterford TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh has backed Mr O’Gorman. He said: “He knows this party inside and out, having served in nearly every role, from councillor to chair of the national executive to his role now as senior Minister.

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“He has also shown huge moral courage and leadership in a very difficult department, and delivered huge results in areas not traditionally associated with the Green Party – the halving of childcare fees, for example.”

Dublin South Central TD Patrick Costello also said he will be supporting Mr O’Gorman. He told RTÉ radio he believes a Dublin-based leader can win support around the country. He said: “It’s not just about the leader, it’s about the quality of representatives we have around the country.”

Green Party Dublin city councillor Michael Pidgeon has also backed Mr O’Gorman.

“There is nobody I would trust more to lead our party than Rod,” he said.

“He’s got principles, decency, and experience. I think he’s 100 per cent the right person for the job,” he added.

Minister of State Joe O’Brien said he is supporting Mr O’Gorman’s candidacy.

He said: “It’s never a good time to lose a leader like Eamon Ryan but it’s invaluable we have somebody like Roderic who has been steeped in party all his life, canvassing since he was a kid, and knows every root and branch of the party nationwide.

“I think he’s the best candidate. Obviously he’s got the experience of being a senior minister in Cabinet. He’s had some tough challenges but he’s managed them well.”

Meanwhile, another two councillors, Donna Cooney in Clontarf and Honore Kamegni in Cork City, have also backed Mr O’Gorman bringing the total to ten out of the 23 returned for the Green Party in the Local Election.

Conor Dowling, a councillor in Blackrock, said he is supporting Ms Hackett.

He said: “Pippa’s track record, background, and what she represents, will make a difference for the party and Ireland.

“I believe she is the shake-up we need to grow, win more seats, and deliver for the environment.”

Mr Dowling added: “Historically the Greens have been strong in cities but we need to grow our appeal to include rural Ireland too.

“Pippa will bring a balance that will help demonstrate and communicate the benefits and impacts of Green policies for everyone.”

Wicklow TD Steven Matthews has said he is supporting Ms Hackett as leader and Ossian Smyth as deputy leader.

He said: “Pippa has been at the Cabinet table for the last four years, she is based outside Dublin, and she has the energy, the work ethic and the vision to make a fresh start for the Green Party.

“She is a tough negotiator, she has the skills and experience to deal with the current challenges but also has the vision to continue our successful delivery of public transport, energy security, retrofitting our homes at scale, supporting our farmers and cutting childcare costs.”

Others supporting Mr O’Gorman include Dublin city councillors Feljin Jose, Janet Horner and Ray Cunningham, as well as Eva Elizabeth Dowling in Stillorgan and Marianne Butler in Louth.

Mr Ryan announced he would step down as Greens leader in a shock announcement on Monday morning. Mr Ryan’s resignation was followed swiftly by deputy leader Catherine Martin, who also said that she would step down and not contest the leadership race.

Mr Ryan said on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne that he would remain “completely neutral” in commentary around the potential future leader.

Taoiseach Simon Harris denied on Wednesday that Eamon Ryan’s standing down as Green Party leader will cause any disruption to the Coalition.

Speaking in Clones, Co Monaghan to mark the restoration of the Ulster Canal, he said the party’s new leader is a matter for the Green Party, adding that the three parties remain committed to the “hard-negotiated” programme for Government.

“Certainly, I don’t think it in any way alters the thinking or the timing of the next general election,” he said.

The contest for the next leader of the party will be decided by one member, one vote with voting open to the more than 4,000 members between those in the Republic and those north of the Border.

There was an expectation among some that the new leader will have to come from the Green Party’s Cabinet members.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times