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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 12 August, 2020
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Saoirse McHugh has left the Green Party

“This government, I believe (and I hope I’m wrong) will do massive damage to the idea of environmentalism,” McHugh said.

Image: RTÉ

THE PROMINENT ENVIRONMENTALIST Saoirse McHugh has left the Green Party. 

The Achill activist rose to prominence after an appearance on Prime Time during the European election campaign, where she spoke passionately about the need for reform of the Direct Provision system and strongly criticised “millionaires scapegoating migrants”.

After failing to win a seat in the Midlands-NorthWest constituency in the European election last May, McHugh said that she would leave the party if it went into government with either Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Ahead of the general election in February, McHugh repeated this intention. The Green Party is in a coalition government with both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, after 76% of the party membership voted in favour of the Programme for Government.

“The reasons I have left are obvious,” McHugh tweeted out today.

I joined the Greens with the hope of furthering the cause of climate justice… The PfG that has been agreed on is a terrible document.

McHugh said that the membership were told the Programme for Government had “contained certain things that it didn’t”, and that problems in housing, tax avoidance, healthcare, and agriculture are linked with environmental breakdown.

McHugh also said that she hopes the affiliate group Just-Transition Greens break-off from the Green Party and form “an actual eco-socialist party”, adding that she “couldn’t stomach being affiliated with the Greens”.

McHugh also said that she doesn’t believe that the path “to a just and free society lies in electoral politics”, making reference to bullying and internal party struggles. 

“This government, I believe (and I hope I’m wrong) will do massive damage to the idea of environmentalism by linking it with socially regressive policies.”

Last night, the Cork Greens spokesperson Rob O’Sullivan also announced that he was leaving that group, as well as the Queer Greens group, over the Greens going into coalition with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

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Another Green Party member said that she left the party recently because of a proportion of “middle-class older centrists who care more about cycle lanes than young people having a place to live”.

Responding to McHugh’s exit from the party, Green Party leadership candidate and deputy leader Catherine Martin said: “Sorry you are leaving, Saoirse. Your talent, energy and commitment to climate and social justice is obvious to all. I hope to work alongside you in the future. Beir bua.”

The results of the Green Party leadership race will be announced today at 7pm, after the deadline for receiving ballots closed yesterday at 5.30pm.

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