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Eamon Ryan before talking to the media today. Sasko Lazarov
leadership contest

Eamon Ryan resigns as Green Party leader, Catherine Martin is stepping back, so what happens next?

An election for the new leader of the Greens will now have to take place.


EAMON RYAN HAS announced he is stepping down as the leader of the Green Party. 

Ryan first took over as party leader in 2011, after the Greens were decimated in the general election. He led them to record-breaking victories in the locals in 2019 and the 2020 general election.

This has seen Green ministers take a place at the top table, and implement a Programme for Government strongly focused on the climate. However, the recent local and European elections saw the party lose a large number of seats, and it is down in the polls.

Taking all this into account, Ryan has decided to step down ahead of the upcoming general election, which is due to be held before March next year. He will also not run again as a TD. 

Surprsingly, Deputy leader Catherine Martin announced she is stepping back as the deputy leader, and would not be contesting the leadership position.

So, now it’s time to elect a successor, but with the most likely candidate out of the running. The Greens, like all political parties, have their own rules for how this will play out. Here’s what will happen next.

Green Party Constitution 

Unlike other parties (like Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, for example), anyone who is a paid up member of the Greens can be elected leader, all members of the party can vote, and their votes get equal share.

This means, in theory at least, that the next party leader doesn’t have to be a minister or a TD, but in practice it his highly likely that they will be.

The Green Party constitution states that if a party leaders resigns, an election will be called by the Executive Committee, and the result will be announced when the ballot is completed.

Whoever is elected as leader will then serve until after the next general election, when Green Party rules state that another leadership election must be held within six months.

Speaking today during his resignation speech, Ryan said:

“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.”

In relation to the leadership, he said he looked 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”.

Who’s is the running?

First things first, Catherine Martin has ruled herself out of the running and also confirmed that she will step back as deputy leader of the party.

In a lengthy statement shared on social media, Martin extended her “warm wishes and gratitude to Eamon for his dedicated leadership of the Green Party”.

“At this point in time, I will not be putting myself forward for the Leadership contest. I will also step back as Deputy Leader,” she continued.

Malcolm Noonan, who challenged Eamon Ryan for the party leadership was back in 2011, has also ruled himself out of the running. The Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform told RTÉ’s News at One that he would not be putting his name forward.

Earlier, it seemed like the contest might be between Catherine Martin and Roderic O’Gorman, but now Martin is out of the picture.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin is the most high profile Green TD apart from Eamon Ryan and narrowly missed out on taking his job after an election in 2020.

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. 

Sources are tipping O’Gorman to potentially take the role.

Some sources have said that following a bad local election result for the Greens (for which O’Gorman was director of elections), a chance to become party leader might give him the positive profile boost he needs to retain his seat in the upcoming general election.

Some within the party are already describing O’Gorman as the “natural successor” to Ryan. While an election is expected within the party, one party source once all is said and done with the competition, they expect O’Gorman to be the next leader.  

Immigration has become one of the central issues the Government is dealing with, and at the end of the day as Minister for Integration 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.

Other names who might be interested in throwing their hat in the ring that are being mentioned today is Senator Pauline O’Reilly, who ran unsuccessfully in the European elections.

Pippa Hackett, the Green Party Senator, who also serves as Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity in the Department of Agriculture, has also been mentioned today, with some believing she might be tempted to contest the leadership so as to boost her profile ahead of the next general election. 

With reporting from Christina Finn

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