Green Party leadership contenders offer different selling points

Roderic O’Gorman cites his accomplishments as Minister for Children, while Pippa Hackett says party needs ‘non-Dublin leader’

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

Once Eamon Ryan announced he was stepping down as leader of the Green Party, surprise quickly turned to speculation concerning his successor.

Minister for Culture and deputy party leader Catherine Martin may have seemed the obvious choice, having contested the leadership in 2020 when she lost by just 48 votes. However, Martin quickly ruled herself out of the race and went further by standing down as the party’s deputy leader.

The focus was then on Roderic O’Gorman, who confirmed on Wednesday morning that he would be running to lead the party into the next general election.

Announcing his intention to run, O’Gorman outlined his accomplishments while in Government saying he has halved the cost of childcare, increased paid leave for parents, “tackled the gender pay gap” and introduced “world-leading” domestic violence leave.


The 42-year-old, who is from Mulhuddart and lives in Blanchardstown with his husband Ray Healy, served on Fingal County Council as a councillor since 2014 before being elected as TD for Dublin West in 2020.

He was also the Green Party’s chairman for eight years.

Following the Coalition’s inception, he was appointed Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

How the Green Party leadership contest worksOpens in new window ]

His ownership of this portfolio, which included leading on accommodating tens of thousands of displaced Ukrainian refugees, alongside the arduous task of sourcing accommodation for international protection applicants, has put him in the firing line, particularly in recent months.

NGOs working in the sector have often claimed he and his department were “left on their own” to handle the exacerbating lack of accommodation, which has seen thousands of international protection applicants without State-provided accommodation at one stage or another.

O’Gorman and his department’s efforts to source accommodation have been hampered on occasion by protests at sites earmarked for asylum seekers.

In his time as Minister, O’Gorman has also faced significant backlash concerning the Government’s failed family and care referendums.

It was revealed on the eve of the votes he had been warned by Attorney General Rossa Fanning, months before, that it was “difficult to predict with certainty” how the Irish courts would interpret the concept of “durable relationships”.

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It was also revealed, in newly-released documents this month, that O’Gorman had received advice from Department of Justice officials that warned the family and care referendums risked creating prolonged “legal uncertainty” over migration rules.

The advice was received by O’Gorman before he claimed the referendums would have “no legal impact” on immigration law.

Why is Eamon Ryan stepping aside?Opens in new window ]

O’Gorman’s entry into the party leadership race was followed on Wednesday by Pippa Hackett.

Originally from Mayo, Hackett has lived in Offaly for more than 20 years where she runs a mixed organic farm, specialising in organic beef, alongside her husband Mark who was a councillor until he lost his seat in the local elections this month.

One of their four children, Charlie (20), ran as a Green Party candidate for Laois County Council but failed to secure a seat.

Having been elected as a councillor to Offaly County Council in 2019, Hackett became a senator soon after in the 2019 byelection after no other candidate was nominated to contest former MEP Grace O’Sullivan’s seat.

The 50-year-old failed to secure a seat in Laois-Offaly in 2020′s general election, coming sixth in the five-seat constituency.

However, she became one of just a handful of senators in the history of the State to be appointed to Cabinet, after being appointed Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity in the Department of Agriculture.

After announcing her intention to seek the leadership of the Green Party, Hackett argued that the party’s focus must be shifted away from targets to making green policies work for ordinary people.

Eamon Ryan profile: Despite aiming at ‘moonshots’, the Greens leader was a realist at heartOpens in new window ]

Acknowledging a significant loss of seats outside of Dublin following this month’s local elections, Hackett said it was the reason she, “as a rural dweller”, would be the best person to lead the party.

“As a party we have never had a non-Dublin leader, never had a woman lead the party, and I believe I can offer perspective and certainly my different life experiences can make the Green Party relevant and relatable,” she said.

Jack White

Jack White

Jack White is a reporter for The Irish Times