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No money but plenty of ideas: 7 things that happened at the Green Party conference

The Greens gathered in Kilkenny over the weekend. Here’s what happened.

Eamon Ryan
Eamon Ryan
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE GREEN PARTY gathered for its annual conference in Kilkenny over the weekend.

The former government party is slowly rebuilding itself after total wipe out at the 2011 general election. It’s been a slow and underfunded recovery but there is renewed optimism among the Greens after a credible showing in last year’s local and European elections.

Over 150 delegates attended the three day gathering at Langton’s Hotel in Kilkenny city. Here are a few things that happened…

1. The Greens want to repeal the 8th 

Like all political parties right, the Green Party has had to grapple with the abortion issue. A motion calling for a referendum on the repeal of the 8th Amendment was passed while a separate motion that would favour a Yes vote was narrowly passed.

2. … and more women in politics 

Another issue the Greens must grapple with is ensuring that 30 per cent of its candidates are female. Three of the party’s 12 councillors in the Republic are women, meaning it’s running at around 25 per cent, but its one of the few which has a woman in a senior leadership role in deputy leader Catherine Martin.

The Dublin councillor had her own theories about why there are so few women in Irish politics when she spoke to us last week and she told conference that women “must play a central role in the recovery of both our party and our country”.

3. Owning Irish Water… 

The Greens’ idea for a referendum to enshrine public ownership of the water supply was so popular that it was copied by pretty much every other opposition political party. A motion reiterating that call was passed by delegates this weekend.

4. … and the banks… but in a good way… maybe 

Delegates also passed a motion calling for the establishment of up to 10 new local banks where lending would be carried out exclusively in the region with any profit or interest retained locally. It sounds like credit unions but the idea comes from Germany and is being championed by finance spokesperson Mark Dearey.

5. The Green comeback is slow…

While Fianna Fáil’s efforts to mount a political comeback after near wipe out in 2011 is well-documented, the Greens bid to come back from total wipe out is less so. The party has quietly gone about its recovery and put in a credible performance in last year’s local and European elections.

It now plans to run a candidate in every constituency in the country with realistic prospects of a seat in about half a dozen, including Dublin Bay South where party leader Eamon Ryan is running. He recently spoke to us about what the Greens would do if they return to the Dáil next year:

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

6. … and underfunded 

One of the biggest challenges facing the Greens is money. It lost all of its State funding in 2011 and is desperate to win 2 per cent in the next election to get some of it back. Ryan noted the party was “steeped in a volunteer tradition” but told delegates:

So our biggest task in the next six months is to go out and fundraise to pay for the leaflets and posters and the office we need to win next spring. That money we have to raise will still be between one tenth and one hundredth of what other parties have to spend, but we are going to make it go a lot further.

7. This wasn’t the only conference 

While the Greens gathered in Kilkenny, a group of independents assembled in Tullamore to discuss common policy platforms ahead if the next election. This did not go unnoticed at the Green conference. Martin had some stinging words for the Independent Alliance’s purported leader, Shane Ross, who also happens to be her constituency rival in Dublin Rathdown.

He could give a masterclass on flip flop populism. He who is always happy to pontificate, can now condemn, advise and see exactly what went wrong.


Read: Why this councillor was canvassing for Trevor Sargent… when he was 10

Read: ‘I’m tired of middle-aged men pissing away my future all the time’

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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