Catherine Martin rules out possibility of leading Green Party as Eamon Ryan steps down – The Irish Times

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has announced he will resign as party leader and will not contest the next election. Video: Chris Maddaloni

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has announced he is resigning as party leader and will not contest the next election.

As the competition to succeed him began, deputy party leader Catherine Martin said she was also stepping down from her senior role in the party and had withdrawn from competition for a more senior role.

“At this time I will not be putting myself forward in the leadership race. I will also be stepping down as deputy leader,” Ms Martin said in a statement just hours after Mr Ryan’s announcement.

“I look forward to supporting the party’s new leadership. We are fortunate to have so many talented party members.”

Ms Martin, who challenged Mr Ryan for the leadership when the Coalition was formed in 2020, said her focus was “on delivering more real and significant change in my capacity as minister”. [for Tourism, Culture and the Media]” And serving the people of Dublin Rathdown.

“I look forward to running there in the next general election,” he said.

Mr Ryan made his unscheduled announcement at Government House at 1pm after a cabinet meeting.

The Transport Minister said it had been “an absolute privilege” for him to serve the public for nearly 30 years. He said he would continue in the role of party leader and minister until a new leader was elected.

“I am stepping down to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders,” Mr Ryan said. “Our party will now elect a new leader to take the party forward.”

Mr Ryan said politics had become too demanding and too “divisive” and there were often “hateful attacks” on social media.

He said he wanted to focus on family life and paid special tribute to his wife Victoria White and children, and made special mention of his son Tommy, who has additional needs.

“I cannot continue as a public representative for long, which is why I am not standing again in the next general election. I have child-rearing responsibilities at home that I want to fulfil. We have a son with special needs who also needs my care.”

Mr Ryan later said he had made that decision several months earlier and confirmed he would not run again at the next general election. He insisted the decision was not motivated by the “bitter-sweet” results for the party in the local and European elections.

Mr Ryan said he was proud of what the Government had achieved over the past four years. “We have put the country on a path to a more sustainable future.”

He mentioned the improvements made in public transport, renewable energy and nature restoration. Describing social justice as an integral part of the party’s politics, he cited in particular the reduction in loss of life and property during Covid, new climate legislation, retrofitting, reduction in public transport fares and the massive expansion of solar and wind energy capacity as achievements.

However, his party suffered heavy losses in the recent local and European elections, losing more than half of its council seats and both its seats in the European Parliament.

Asked if others had approached him to discuss his leadership, he said that had not happened and the decision was his personal one.

“It wasn’t driven by results. We had mixed results,” he said, adding that in the local elections “we came out on top in several constituencies.”

Mr Ryan said his biggest regret was that “there has been a narrative over my tenure that we don’t care about rural Ireland, that our solutions are costing people money and that we don’t connect with the man and woman on the street. I don’t think any of that is true”.

“Divisive politics will not work if we are to see the scale and pace of change that needs to happen. Our approach is to listen to people, ask for help, not tell everyone what to do, accept uncertainty about what changes will work best, and speak to the heart, not just the head.”

He also criticised the harmful influence of social media on politics and politicians.

“It hasn’t been easy to get people to agree to this because we have been under constant attack, especially on social media. At times it felt like there was a coordinated attack on us in the comments section after any post we made.

“I chose to ignore the worst comments, even though they included vile remarks about my recently deceased father. Over the past year, the level of abuse has escalated and has poisoned people’s thinking about not only our party but our agenda.

“That’s why it’s so important that we value and fund a strong, fair and independent media into the future, so people can trust they’re getting accurate information about what’s happening in our world.”

Mr Ryan said he was prepared to serve in any role for the duration of the government – it was up to the party’s new leader.

Taoiseach Simon Harris paid tribute to Mr Ryan in the Dáil, describing him as “a meaningful and influential politician”.

Mr Harris said the leadership of the Green Party was a matter for that party, and the Coalition’s programme for government would continue to be implemented.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said Mr Ryan had been outspoken on a wide range of issues throughout his political career and his commitment to green causes remained unwavering.

Mr Martin said “this Government has proven to be a landmark Government in terms of its response to the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis.” He gave examples such as climate legislation, retrofitting, investment in public transport.

In contrast, Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said the Green Party had failed in government, although on a personal level he wishes Mr Ryan all the best.

“The Government is good at setting targets but not at delivering on them, and these failures will have long-term consequences for the country,” Mr Carthy told RTE’s News at One programme.

Labour leader Ivana Beswick, who shares the Dublin Bay South constituency with Mr Ryan, said she wanted to send her best wishes to him and his family, adding that she wanted to “acknowledge his immense contribution to public service and environmentalism”.

Mr Ryan becomes the second coalition party leader to step down this year, following Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar in April.

Mr Ryan was first elected to the Dáil in 2002 and has been a TD for Dublin Bay South since 2016. He has been leader of the Green Party since 2011.

Mr Ryan led his party back into government after the party’s best-ever election result in 2020. He had spent much of the past decade rebuilding the party after it lost all of its seats in the 2011 election following the economic crisis, following which it served in tumultuous government with Fianna Fail for four years.

His resignation comes as the coalition enters the final phase of its life, preparing for a general election that is due to take place before the end of next March, but many expect even earlier.

Speculation about autumn elections has been rife since the recent relatively successful local and European elections for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.



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