O’Gorman edges ahead of Hackett in contest to be next Green Party leader

Winner to face challenge of rebounding from the party’s poor results in the local and European elections

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

Roderic O’Gorman took an early lead in terms of public endorsements from the Green Party’s elected representatives as the contest to become the next leader of the party shapes up as a showdown with one other candidate — Pippa Hackett.

By Wednesday evening, 12 of the 23 Green Party councillors returned in the local elections had announced they were supporting Mr O’Gorman compared to one for Ms Hackett.

However, her supporters were out from early morning to bat for their preferred candidate with party chairwoman Senator Pauline O’Reilly, Minister of State Ossian Smyth and TDs Brian Leddin and Steven Matthews backing her before she confirmed she was running on Wednesday afternoon..

Among those backing Mr O’Gorman are Ministers of State Malcolm Noonan and Joe O’Brien as well as TDs Marc Ó Cathasaigh and Patrick Costello.


How the Green Party leadership contest worksOpens in new window ]

When added together, this leaves O’Gorman with 16 backers to date compared to Ms Hackett’s five.

Ultimately, regardless of public declarations of support from Oireachtas members and councillors, the more than 4,000 members of the Green Party will determine the winner through the one-member, one-vote system operated by the party.

Last night the party said it expects to reveal the name of Eamon Ryan’s replacement as leader on July 8th.

The party’s executive committee met on Wednesday night and said afterwards it had written to all members to inform them nominations for the leadership contest can be submitted from 9am on Thursday until 9pm on Monday. The names of those standing for leader will be made public on the morning of Tuesday, June 25th.

Candidates need 50 nominations from full party members.

Who will replace Eamon Ryan?/Northern Ireland votes

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Whoever emerges as the winner will face the challenge of rebounding from the Green Party’s poor results in the local and European elections during which it lost about half of its council seats as well as its two MEPs.

Dublin West TD and Minister for Integration Mr O’Gorman was the first to announce he was running to replace Ryan.

In a social media post on Wednesday morning, he highlighted his experience in Government and his more than two decades of Green Party membership as he made his pitch for support from members.

During the day Mr O’Gorman rebuffed suggestions that Ms Hackett would be better placed to appeal to rural Ireland where the party has had difficulty attracting support amid political attacks over the impact of climate action measures on farming in particular.

Mr O’Gorman said she is a “fantastic colleague” and “excellent Minister” but it is “simplistic to say if we have someone living in rural Ireland — ‘problem solved’.”

One of his supporters, Mr O’Brien, told The Irish Times that Mr O’Gorman “knows every root and branch of the party nationwide”, has experience as a senior minister in Cabinet, and has “had some tough challenges but he’s managed them well”.

Making her pitch, Ms Hackett told Newstalk she believed she could be a “fresh start” for the party” and she billed herself as “not your conventional Green” adding: “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.”

Offaly-based Senator Ms Hackett, a “super junior” Minister of State for agriculture with a seat at Cabinet said the party has never had a non-Dublin or woman leader adding that her “perspective and certainly my different life experiences can make the Green Party relevant and relatable”.

Mr Leddin praised Ms Hackett’s “immense ability” and said: “All of our leaders have been from Dublin and there’s a very strong narrative the party is Dublin-centric. We’re not going to dispel that narrative by choosing our next leader from Dublin as well.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times