Belfast Telegraph

Green taoiseach possible in two governments time, insists Eamon Ryan

The leader of the Green Party says the party will return ‘at least’ six TDs in the next election and they will ‘surprise people’ with their success.

Eamon Ryan said his party’s success in future is likely to surprise many (PA)
Eamon Ryan said his party’s success in future is likely to surprise many (PA)

By Aine McMahon, PA

A Green Party taoiseach is possible in two governments time, Eamon Ryan has said.

The leader of the Green Party has said he expects to get at least six TDs to be returned after the next election.

Mr Ryan said he is optimistic about the 2020 general election and hopes to build on the success of the local elections where they won almost 50 seats.

Asked if could see a Green Party TD becoming taoiseach within the next 10 years, he ruled himself out but said it is possible that one of his successors could.

Why should we not be right up at top? We will have to deserve it, we will have to put in hard work and patience and deserve it. There is no presumption - but if we do that, I don't see why not Eamon Ryan

“Why not? In two governments time. I mean, I’m being ambitious with that… I’m too old but one of my successors – I think that’s not far away.

Citing the growth of the German Green party in the Bundestag, he said: “Why should we not be like the Germans? Why should we not be right up at top?”

“We will have to deserve it, we will have to put in hard work and patience and deserve it.

“There is no presumption – but if we do that, I don’t see why not,” he said.

In an interview with the PA news agency, Mr Ryan said he is confident that the party can return at least six TDs and the lack of experience of some of the party’s candidates is not an issue.

“I mean, I won the first time I ran for a general action so it is not impossible.

“And you could look at it two ways; you could think ‘oh you’re young and inexperienced’ but then I would prefer that to old and tired.”

“There is a wave of thinking from young people to say  – ‘this is our future. How dare you’.

“I do think we represent them and I think having young candidates who are who are kind of in tune with that….I think that’s fair enough for us because that’s the people we’re representing and therefore it makes sense to have similar candidates that can express their view,” he said.

“I think we could get more and if we did so, we would have a stronger hand in in negotiations after the next election.

“So I would say it is better to over perform rather than kind of be presumptuous, and ultimately it’s up to the electorate –  they have to decide who’s going to represent them.”

“We’re running in every constituency in the Dail (Irish Parliament) elections and I think we have a chance in a whole load of them so we might surprise people by doing more than that.”

Mr Ryan defended accusations his party will fail to return TDs in rural areas due to some of their policies.

“If we’re going to address the biodiversity and climate crisis we face well then every place matters, particularly rural Ireland.

“And it is not an agenda, going Green is going to be good for rural Ireland and it will be better for farming as the current system is not working.

“It is not paying farmers properly, there’s no young farmers going into farming.

“I will be better for forestry as there will be much more natural forests that are full of wildlife.”

“There will be better balanced development  – not just everything tilted towards the east coast as we need to develop our towns and villages and cities, outside Dublin.

“So I think we’re going to turn that narrative. We have already seen it in the local and European elections.

“We did really well right across the country and I think we have a chance in the election of winning in places where we’ve never been seen to have a chance before.”

Mr Ryan criticised Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring and the Government for directing money to new road projects instead of public transport in rural areas.

“All of the money is going on motorways.

“Just last week we seen that they are going to be widening the N11 – that will be 700 million euro.

“There will be no traffic gain because it is just heading to a gridlock in Dublin.”

“Michael Ring is trumpeting – ‘oh, I’e got a quarter of a billion to widen the road from Castlebar to Westport’.

“What would a quarter of a billion euro have delivered for public transport? before we have a billion deliver for public transport in Mayo if you were to switch it to that.

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Mr Ryan criticised the Government for directing money into new roads instead of public transport in rural areas (PA)

“And that is in a Westport where people are standing all the way from Dublin on the  train – like it’s crazy what they’re doing.”

“I think Irish people are waking up.

“They’re just building roads everywhere just doesn’t work – it just doesn’t work for motorists because you just get more cars and more gridlock. That has to change,” he said.

Mr Ryan predicted there will be no diesel cars in ten years time and cities like Dublin will become more like Copenhagen due to an emphasis on climate action.

“We will stop making diesel cars in 10 years time and I hope, if we can get our act together – that we won’t have single use disposable plastic everywhere in 10 years time.

“I think our cities such as Dublin would be more like Copenhagen or Amsterdam than Los Angeles or Houston, Texas”

“In 10 years time, I think we will start growing forests that are actually spectacularly wild and natural for us.

“The next decade is important and is going to set us on a new path.

“Greta Thunberg said it’s the next decade is going to be critical, because the science is clear.

“We need to radically reduce our emissions in the next decade and doing that I think will change society for the better, not just the environment, but change the way our economy works for the better.

“And it’s our job to deliver that.”

PA

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