Belfast Telegraph

Green candidate backed after saying she will quit if party enters coalition

Saoirse McHugh is the MEP candidate for Midlands North West.

Ballots are sorted during the European Parliamentary elections count centre for Ireland South constituency in Cork (Michelle Devane/PA)
Ballots are sorted during the European Parliamentary elections count centre for Ireland South constituency in Cork (Michelle Devane/PA)

The Green Party leader has backed his candidate after she said she would quit the party if it entered a coalition with Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

Midlands North West MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh said in a number of interviews over the weekend that she would leave The Green Party if they entered any confidence and supply arrangement with Ireland’s two majority parties.

Speaking on Newstalk Ms McHugh said: “I think incrementalism in terms of climate action is done at the cost of support for more radical measures – and I just don’t trust that Fianna Fail or Fine Gael will implement a big, radical system change.

“It has nothing to do with me, that’s just my opinion.

“It would be a democratic vote within the party as to whether we went in or not.”

Speaking at the count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said he supports Ms McHugh in speaking her mind and expressing her opinion.

“She’s absolutely entitled to,” he said.

“What I said to Saoirse before is ‘speak your mind, be yourself and speak your own mind’, it’s never easy to think about coalition.

“We’re in councils across the country now and we’re going to have to sit down with all sorts of parties forming coalitions in local councils.

“Similarly in Europe, the Greens probably hold the balance of power in Europe, we tend to work with everyone.”

Ms McHugh became an unexpected contender for one of the hotly-contested Midlands North West seats, with a strong showing of 12% in an RTE exit poll after a much-praised TV debate appearance.

However on Tuesday morning, Mr Ryan conceded that he did not expect Ms McHugh to be elected.

“I think it will be tough because she may not quite have the votes to be in the race,” he said.

“But you don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see what the count is.

“The exit poll probably exaggerated our vote, but come what may she has done a terrific job, she was a brilliant candidate for us.

“People were inspired by her and I think she’s done a remarkable job.”

Ms McHugh is in the running for one of the four seats, along with frontrunners Matt Carthy, Peter Casey, Mairead McGuinness, Luke “Ming” Flanagan and Maria Walsh.

PA

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