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Eamon Ryan making his resignation speech outside Government Buildings today

As it happened: Eamon Ryan steps down as Green Party leader and won't stand at next election

A contest will now be held to decide the next leader of the Green Party.

EAMON RYAN IS stepping down as leader of the Green Party.

Ryan, who is also the Climate, Environment, Communications and Transport Minister, made the announcement after informing his government colleagues at a Cabinet meeting earlier today. 

He won’t be running in the next general election, he confirmed. 

Ryan, who has been “either running for or holding public office” for the last 30 years, said his career has been “an absolute privilege”. 

The Green Party lost half their council seats (going from 44 to 23) and both of their MEPs – Grace O’Sullivan and Ciarán Cuffe – in the recent local and European elections.

Ryan said he decided to step down “a good few months ago”, rather than after the recent election losses.

He said he will hand over to a “new generation” and that he believes the coalition government can go full term. 

Updates from Órla Ryan and Muiris O’Cearbhaill

Hi, it’s Órla Ryan here.

Some breaking news this morning: Eamon Ryan is expected to step down as leader of the Green Party.

Ryan, who is also the Climate, Environment, Communications and Transport Minister, is due to make an announcement at 12.30pm after today’s Cabinet meeting.

We’ll keep you up to date with all the latest developments.

It is understood that Ryan has spoken to the Government leaders about his decision and has also informed members of his parliamentary party.

The Green Party lost half their council seats (going from 44 to 23) and both of their MEPs – Grace O’Sullivan and Ciarán Cuffe – in the recent local and European elections.

The Greens did have one recent victory with the passing of the Nature Restoration Law in Europe.

European environment ministers signed off on the law yesterday, finally green-lighting the hard-fought for legislation to protect and restore degraded ecosystems.

The law seeks to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems by 2050, with measures to restore urban, forest, agricultural and marine ecosystems.

Ryan, who represented Ireland at the meeting in Luxembourg, yesterday welcomed the “historic decision”.

He told other ministers there is “no food security in a world where nature is destroyed”.

“The compromise that has been reached more than anything else was attentive to the concerns of our farming community, which are valid. This is a voluntary law in the sense of the measures we may have to take will not be forced or imposed on any farmer or forester,” Ryan said.

You can read more about the Nature Restoration Law in this explainer from our climate change reporter Lauren Boland.

Habitats and ecosystems will be revitalised and protected under the law, which was originally proposed two years ago.

Most of the legislation that passes through the EU rarely becomes a topic of public conversation, but this law proved controversial and emerged as a topic of debate in many member states including Ireland.

My colleague Cormac Fitzgerald has summarised the last Green Party leadership race:

It’s just over four years since Eamon Ryan was challenged for the leadership by deputy leader Catherine Martin.

Back in June 2020, despite a strong showing for the party in that general election, Martin decided to challenge Ryan for the top spot, after a faction of TDs and Green Party councillors encouraged her to do so.

All Green Party members are entitled to vote, and their vote is given equal weight, no matter if they are a member of the parliamentary party, a councillor or a regular paid up member.

Ryan won by just 48 votes, receiving 994 votes against Martin’s 946. There was a 66.7% turnout among party members for the vote.

Here is what happens when a leader steps down, according to the Green Party’s constitution: 

“In the case of the Party Leader resigning without completing a term, an election shall be called by the Executive Committee and the result be announced when the ballot is completed; the term thus started shall last until after the next general election in the Republic of Ireland, when a leadership election must again take place after polling day and no later than six months after the subsequent election of a Taoiseach.”

Our Political Editor Christina Finn is hearing rumblings that Roderic O’Gorman is one of the frontrunners to succeed Ryan. An election will be needed either way, so members of the party can have their say.

More from my colleague Lauren Boland:

From a high to a low – just yesterday, Eamon Ryan was in Luxembourg for an important meeting of EU environment ministers, where the Nature Restoration Law was finally approved.

Ryan and Green Party colleague Malcolm Noonan were part of a big push to try to get reluctant countries to back the law, and Ryan, on his social media and in media statements, emphasised that work put in by Ireland to get the law over the line.

We’ll need to learn more about the timeline of his decision to step down to know whether his cards were already dealt yesterday and he was enjoying a moment of victory before the end, or if it was a last-chance effort to show his party why they should keep him on top.

A little trip down memory lane.

Here is then-councillor Eamon Ryan at the Green Party’s launch of proposals for a Dublin Metro Line at Buswells Hotel in February 2002.


And here he is opening a window during the 10th plenary meeting of the North-South ministerial council at Farmleigh house in Dublin in July 2010. 

communications-minister-eamon-ryan-opens-a-window-during-the-10th-plenary-meeting-of-the-north-south-ministerial-council-at-farmleigh-house-in-dublin Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Fun game: Tell us you’re killing time until he makes the announcement without telling us you’re killing time. 

green-party-commits-to-new-light-rail-projects Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

In happier times, when the Green Party proposed additional Luas lines in Dublin, Cork and Galway in 2007.

Ryan (right) is pictured with then-MEP Patricia McKenna and then-GP leader Trevor Sargent.

Mark Mellett, former head of the Defence Forces and current board chair with Sage Advocacy and Mara (the Maritime Regulator), has praised Ryan as a “courageous leader”.

My colleague Cormac Fitzgerald is taking a look at the runners and riders to take over from Eamon Ryan as Green Party leader:

So, Ryan will soon be gone. Which means, under the Green Party’s own rules, an election will now take place for a new leader.

Whether or not two or more people will challenge for the position remains to be seen, but if they do it will go to a contest.

Any candidates have to be nominated. A candidate does not have to be an elected TD, senator or councillor to get the top spot. Any party member can put their name forward to run.

However, it is highly likely that a sitting TD, probably with a high profile (so maybe a minister or junior minister) will get the top spot.

eamon-ryan-who-has-been-re-elected-as-leader-of-irelands-green-party-at-the-brooks-hotel-in-dublin-with-deputy-leader-catherine-martin Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin pictured bumping elbows at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in July 2020 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

First up: Catherine Martin

Having narrowly missed out on the job four years ago, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin is the most high profile Green TD apart from Eamon Ryan.

It’s unclear if Martin still wants the top job, but you’d imagine she’s in with a good shout if she does.

Despite holding a whole host of portfolios, what has dominated Martin’s attention over the past year is the ongoing RTÉ financial scandal. The scandal, dealing with financial mismanagement at the national broadcaster, has rumbled on for months, and seen a number of high profile departures.

Martin was at the centre of the story herself back in February, following the resignation of RTÉ chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh after the minister declined to express confidence in her.
Martin came under strong criticism and calls to resign as a result, but she weathered the storm and appeared before an Oireachtas Committee to defend herself.

Time will tell if after four years at the top table Martin is still interested in going for the Green Party leadership.

Another update from our Political Editor Christina Finn who has been speaking to members of the Greens’ parliamentary party.

Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, is being discussed as a possible successor to Ryan.

Christina tells us: Roderic’s name is emerging, though the obvious assumption before today was Catherine Martin.

They say nothing has happened or led to a push, it’s just good timing. The thinking is that Ryan would support O’Gorman as leader.

The Greens had what is described as a disastrous local election and Ryan might think that O’Gorman – who was the party’s director of elections – becoming leader could save ROG’s seat as a TD, sources in the party say.  

Ryan is expected to remain on in his ministerial role for the time being, but will likely be replaced after the new leader takes over.

His portfolio covers Climate, Environment, Communications and Transport.

Another profile from my colleague Cormac Fitzgerald, who is looking at who might succeed Ryan:

Roderic O’Gorman

The Green Party’s third (or possibly second, given his brief) most well-known TD is Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman. The first time TD was elected in 2020 for the Dublin West constituency.

Despite Martin being the obvious choice to potentially follow Ryan as the next leader of the Greens, some sources are tipping O’Gorman to take the role.

It has been a baptism of fire for O’Gorman, who took up the Integration and Children brief and absorbed responsibilities for the management of Direct Provision, which had previously been under the control of the Department of Justice.

file-photo-dated-22022022-of-the-minister-for-children-equality-disability-integration-and-youth-roderic-ogorman-td-speaking-to-the-media-at-government-buildings-in-dublin-government-research Roderic O'Gorman, pictured in July 2023 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

O’Gorman took over the managing of asylum seeker accommodation with the express plan of ending the system. He even published a white paper in late 2020 committing to ending Direct Provision by the end of 2024.

But, needless to say, events took over. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 led to a severe refugee crisis as Ukrainians fled the country. Tens of thousands are currently living in Ireland, which has put significant pressure on accommodation and local services in many towns and cities.

As well as this, since the end of the Covid-19 crisis there has been a massive rise in the numbers of people coming to Ireland seeking International Protection. This has led to the Government – under O’Gorman’s watch – developing a harder line with asylum seekers.

Male asylum seekers have been told there is no accommodation for them, with over 2,000 currently homeless. Makeshift encampments set up in Dublin City are frequently destroyed by the Government. Benefits have also been cut.

Meanwhile, many buildings earmarked for use by asylum seekers are frequently the subject of protests by locals and outsiders and arson attacks, as the far-right and anti-immigration campaigners attempt to use the crisis as a wedge issue.

Immigration has become one of the central issues the Government is dealing with, and at the end of the day management of the crisis falls to O’Gorman. Because of this, the minister’s profile has skyrocketed, but perhaps not for the right reasons.

However, there is some sympathy for O’Gorman for the fact that he is being landed with problems that essentially apply to the whole of Government, concerning as they do Housing, Health, Social Protection and other departments.

Whether he remains popular enough to lead the Greens remains to be seen but, according to sources, he could well be in contention.

The announcement has been slightly delayed – the Cabinet meeting is apparently ongoing – but we’re expecting to hear from Eamon Ryan shortly.

While we wait, here’s another photo from the archives.

Green Party members Eamon Ryan, Ciarán Cuffe, Dan Boyle and then-party leader Trevor Sargent chained themselves to trees on O’Connell Street in Dublin city in November 2002 in protest over plans to cut them down. 

137File Photo Eamon Ryan_90707536

Grey clouds are rolling in over Dublin city – pathetic fallacy, perhaps?

Some political journalists have said Ryan may have a ‘Rishi Sunak moment’ – that is, delivering a big announcement in the lashing rain.

Hopefully he has an umbrella. More as we get it. 

london-uk-22nd-may-2024-rishi-sunak-prime-minister-of-the-united-kingdom-announces-the-date-for-the-next-general-election-to-be-the-4th-of-july-2024-with-a-speech-from-a-lectern-outside-10-downi Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the UK, announcing a general election last month Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Dublin Commuters, a group which campaigns for active and sustainable transport in the capital, has paid tribute to Ryan, describing him as “one of the most important voices in Active and Public Transport over the past few decades”.

Here we go: Ryan is now speaking and has confirmed his departure.

Ryan said it has been a privilege to serve, but the time is right to step down and “pass the torch” to someone new. He said he will accept whatever role in the party the new leader assigns him.

Ryan said he believes the Government will last its full term (until next year) and needs to remain focused on delivering affordable housing, healthcare reform and climate action. 

Ryan said it has been an “honour to lead our parliamentary party” and thanked members for their “great resilience and humour” during difficult periods. 

Ryan again praised the passage of the Nature Restoration Law yesterday, saying it shows what can be done when people work together. 

He said one of his “biggest regrets” is that a “narrative has taken hold that [the Green Party] are not concerned about rural Ireland”, adding that this is not true.

“Divisive politics will not work if we are to see the scale and speed of change [needed to tackle climate change],” he stated.

He also spoke about “relentless” attacks over the years particularly on social media, even after his father passed away.

Ryan has confirmed he will not stand in the next general election in Dublin Bay South, saying he has parenting and other commitments he wants to focus on. He thanked his wife Victoria White for her unwavering support during his time in office.

Ryan said he decided to step down “a good few months ago”, rather than after the Greens’ recent election losses.

Ryan said he has been “in public life now for close to 30 years” and has “loved every minute of it”.

“Yesterday’s approval of the NRL at the Environment Council was another one of those memorable days when we said yes to protecting nature across Europe.

“However, as a leader, it is important to always know that there is a time to go and a time to pass things on to new talent.

“I will continue my lifelong campaigning for climate justice, but in a different way.

I have worked 24/7 for many years in politics but am no longer in a position to do that because of family and parenting commitments.

“This is a decision I came to a while ago, but the time wasn’t quite right to announce it. We are into a new political cycle now.

“The local and European elections have been completed and while the next election won’t happen immediately, it is something that every party will be preparing for over the coming weeks and months.

“This is a good time to hand over to a new leader, who can bring a new perspective, and new way of doing things to the job.”

Ryan took over as leader of the Green Party in May 2011 “at a time when the party was at one of its lowest points, when it had no Oireachtas representatives and only three councillors”, a statement just released by the party notes.

“Working on a largely voluntary basis, he rebuilt it, travelling around the country and expanding the membership,” the statement continues. 

“He was re-elected to the Dail in 2016 and following record local and European election results in 2019, he led the party to its best-ever General Election performance the following year, when 12 TDs and four Senators were returned.”

The Greens has sent out a list of what Ryan achieved in office. Here are some of the main achievements (their list was a lot longer):

  • Introduced higher energy standards for new builds (2010) which saw most homes reach an A3 rating, lowering heating bills and emissions
  • Helped lead the country through Covid, reducing the loss of life
  • Enacted Ireland’s internationally recognised Climate Act 2021
  • Put in place the legal and regulatory foundation for Ireland’s off-shore wind and solar revolutions
  • Designed Ireland’s national retrofitting scheme – every week 1,000 additional households are enjoying warmer homes that are cheaper to heat
  • Phased out the use of smoky coal to improve air quality, something three previous ministers had announced and failed to do
Full speech

Here is Ryan’s full resignation speech:

I am here today to announce that I intend to step down as leader of the Green Party and that I will not be standing in the next General Election.

I have spent the last 30 years either running for or holding public office, as a councillor, TD and Government Minister. It has been an absolute privilege and I want to thank the electorate who have voted for me on eight different occasions over those years, giving me the opportunity to serve our city and country to the best of my ability.

I am stepping down to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders, confident in the strength and values I have seen built up in our party over all these years. Our Party will now elect a new leader to lead the party from here and our own local group will now select a candidate to run in Dublin Bay South.

I will continue as party leader and in my Ministerial roles until a new leader is appointed and look forward to fulfilling whatever role a new leader assigns me for the remaining term of this Government.

I have a number of important measures coming to Cabinet in the coming weeks and we have critical legislation regarding Planning and development, the Just Transition Commission and Marine Protected areas which we still expect to be enacted in the lifetime of this Government.

We also have a fifth budget to deliver, which has to show the same characteristic of the previous budgets in providing the greatest support to those most in need in our society.

I am confident this Government can go the full term, despite this second change in Party leadership. Our coalition was formed with the most detailed Programme for Government, negotiated by the three parties and not just the leadership. Our focus should remain on providing affordable housing, health care reform and climate action in the coming months. There would have to be good reason to leave such important work undone.

It was an honour to lead our Parliamentary Party, who have shown great resilience and good humour in meeting all the challenges we have had to face together. I want to acknowledge all our Green Councillors, old and new, who are the heart of our party in local communities and thank every member of my staff, whose advice and help has been invaluable.

It was a pleasure to work with the civil servants in my two departments and across the Public Service. While we may have had our differences, our government has maintained a spirit of collaboration in making many difficult decisions. A lot of the credit for that goes to our own green teams here in Government buildings, in the Oireachtas and in Suffolk Street, our party headquarters.

This Government has had a proud record and we have set the country on a course to a more sustainable and secure future. Social justice is integral to green politics. Investing in Public Transport and safe streets helps the disadvantaged the most. Relying on our own renewable energy keeps money in the country and creates good jobs that last. Paying to restore nature will help more marginal farming systems most of all. This is the best future for rural as well as urban Ireland.

I look back over the last four years and am proud of what we have achieved.

Reducing the loss of life during Covid.

Introducing a strong climate law.

Cutting public transport fares and starting an offshore and solar energy revolution.

We have the highest level of retrofitting in any EU state meaning that every week 1,000 more households wake up in homes that are warmer, healthier and cheaper to heat.

We designed and delivered the energy credits which helped people in the cost-of-living crisis.

We are lowering speed limits and delivering the National Broadband plan.

Our deposit refund scheme is working.

We have built out cost rental housing, recognised Palestine and been a champion on the world stage for climate justice for developing countries.

Only yesterday we helped rescue and approve the Nature Restoration Law in the EU.

I could go on. Even our harshest critics make the case about how much we are doing in turning the country Green.

One of my biggest regrets is that under my watch a narrative has taken hold that we are not concerned about rural Ireland, our solutions are costing people and we are not connected to the man and woman on the street. None of that do I believe to be true.

Divisive politics will not work if we are to see the scale and speed of change that has to be achieved. Our approach is to start by listening to people, asking for help, rather than telling everyone what to do, admitting uncertainty in how the change will work best and speaking to the heart and not just the head because our motivation comes from a love of creation and our place within it. We seek benefits for every place and community in the transition we need to make.

Convincing people of that has not been easy because we have also been the subject of a relentless attack, particularly on social media. It seemed at times that we were subject to coordinated attacks in the comments section following any post we made. I decided to ignore the worst comments, even when it included vile statements about my own recently deceased father. The level of invective has only increased in the last year and poisons the well of public thinking about our agenda and not just our party. That is one of the reasons why it is so important that we cherish a strong, impartial and independent media and that we put the future funding in place so that people can trust that they are getting accurate information on what is happening in our world.

You could despair about the future of our democracy if you were to live just in that algorithm driven and polarising online world. However, I am hopeful as to what is going to come next. I have spent the last few days contacting every one of the 132 candidates that ran for us in the local and European elections, getting feedback on how their campaigns went. I am inspired by their continued determination to serve the public and their feedback that the majority of discussions at the doors was both very engaging and very civic minded. In leaving my leadership role I will be asking a new generation of people to take up this honourable public role by joining our party and joining us in meeting the public when the next election comes.

I will continue to work on climate action but in a different way. I cannot continue to work the long hours that being a public representative involves, which is why I am not standing again. I have parenting commitments at home which I also want to serve. We have a son with special needs who also requires my attention. My wife Victoria White has been my greatest support and inspiration. I want to also thank all my family and friends who have been at my side at all times.

I will do everything I can to support the future success of our party, adhering to our founding principles: to address the ecological crisis in everything we do; to insure social justice comes with this transition; to engage in peaceful politics, respecting everyone and to work within our democratic constitutional system and the rule of law, trusting the people to make the right decision in the end.

It was an honour to work in the office in front of me now, looking across at the offices of the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, the Ministry of Finance, the Attorney General and the Secretary General of the Department of Taoiseach. It was a privilege to work with the various office holders inside those offices and with my Cabinet colleagues. I would like to thank them for the courtesy they and the opposition leaders in our Oireachtas have shown me over the last four years.

We are lucky to be able to serve within the institutions of our democratic Republic. I look forward to supporting our new party leader, seeing out our current mandate and then returning to the people looking to them for direction on what comes next.

I look forward to it all.

*eyes emoji*

Taoiseach Simon Harris and Tánaiste Micheál Martin have both paid tribute to Eamon Ryan.

Speaking to reporters, Martin said that Ryan gave “an enormous contribution to Irish politics and Irish life”. The Tánaiste wished the minister well in the remainder of this Government’s term and in the future.

Harris said: “Minister Eamon Ryan yesterday informed me of his decision to resign his leadership of the Green Party.

“Eamon is a politician of enormous standing and I want to pay tribute to him and his family for everything they have given Irish politics through his leadership of the Greens. I respect and understand his decision.”

The Taoiseach described Ryan as a “genuine, passionate and inherently decent person who brings those same qualities to politics”.

“The leadership of the Green Party is now a matter for the party’s members and rules,” he added.

Harris echoed Ryan’s insistence that the Government’s wil see out the rest of it’s term and the completion of the Programme for Government.

“We have much work to do,” he added.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik has also wished Ryan well. 

On that note, I’m going to hand over the liveblog to my colleague Muiris O’Cearbhaill.

Thanks for staying with us so far. We’ll keep you updated with developments throughout the day.

Our reporter David Mac Redmond has been chatting to Green Party Cllr Hazel Chu, one of the party’s best-performing candidates in the recent election, about today’s announcement:

Now that Eamon Ryan has ruled himself out of running in the next general election, attention will undoubtedly turn quickly to the candidates in the Green Party likely to vie for his Dublin Bay South seat in the Dáil.

Among the potential runners are three Dublin candidates who performed well in the local elections – Claire Byrne, Hazel Chu and Carolyn Moore.

All three women either topped the poll on 7 June or got elected to Dublin City Council in the first round of vote counting.

Byrne is a DCC councillor for the South East Inner City ward, Chu represents the Pembroke area and Moore holds a seat in Kimmage-Rathmines.

When asked about the Green Party’s plans for who they might run in Ryan’s place, Hazel Chu told The Journal that she didn’t want to weigh on that today.

“For me, I would very much like to thank Eamon for his leadership and focus on him today,” Chu said.

“My main thing is just to wish him well and make sure that the party stays its course.”

The Green Party has paid tribute to their outgoing leader in a thread on X (formerly Twitter), after Minister Eamon Ryan confirmed he will be stepping down from the role today.

In it’s post, the party looks back at Ryan’s career in the Greens, adding: “Resilience, integrity and vision throughout. Thank you, @eamonryan.”

As these things go in Leinster House: After a minute of madness, it’s right back to business as usual for TDs as they take their seats in the Dáil ahead of Leaders’ Questions.

Screenshot 2024-06-18 140156

Former Green Party leader, John Gormley, who Eamon Ryan succeeded in 2011, has paid tribute to the outgoing leader’s career on X (formerly Twitter).

Gormley said that Ryan had helped him in his 1989 Seanad election campaign and later co-opted Gormley’s Dublin city council seat in 1998.

“He has been an outstanding minister. Go raibh maith agat, a Eamóin, as do chuid oibre ar son na tíre,” he added.

Speaking in the Dáil, Taoiseach Simon Harris paid tribute to the role Eamon Ryan played in the current Government and said he accepts his reasons for stepping down.

Screenshot 2024-06-18 140715

Labour leader Ivana Bacik has also paid tribute to Eamon Ryan’s career and acknowledged his resignation during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon.

Bacik said that Ryan made “immense contributions to public service and environmentalism”.

Screenshot 2024-06-18 141422

Junior minister for nature and heritage Malcolm Noonan, and fellow Green Party member, has said Eamon Ryan is a “titan of Irish politics” who will be remembered as the party leader who “transformed Ireland’s environmental movement and made it mainstream”.

Noonan, who also contested the 2011 leadership election which Ryan won, said he spent Ryan’s first day as leader with him.

Yesterday, Ryan and Noonan attended the EU Enviornmental Council on behalf of the Irish Government in Brussels to debate and pass the Nature Restoration Law.

Noonan said:

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that 13 years later, we’d be spending his last day as leader together as well, representing Ireland, both as ministers, ushering the most important piece of biodiversity legislation for 30 years through the EU Enviornmental council.”

Noonan wished Ryan, his “good friend”, well in the remainder of the Government’s term and in the outgoing leader’s future post-politics.

Leader of the Social Democrats, Holly Cairns, wished Eamon Ryan the “very best” after he announced his resignation today.

“He has always been sincere and helpful and can be proud of his significant contribution to Irish public life,” she said.

Before we wrap up, here are the main takeaways from this afternoon’s announcement:

  • Eamon Ryan will be stepping down as leader of the Green Party
  • He will remain in situ until a new leader is elected
  • He will not contest the next general election
  • He plans to stay in the Dáil until the end of this Government’s term
  • He will not be standing down from his positions as Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications or Minister for Transport yet – and will allow the new leader of the party to decide whether or not to replace him

So, the obvious question is: What’s next? My colleague Cormac Fitzgerald has got you sorted.

Read here to find out what we know so far about the next leader of the Green Party and what can you expect to happen in the coming days and weeks.

That’s all from me and the rest of the team. Have a lovely rest of your day.

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