Belfast Telegraph

Greens reject conflict with farmers as they launch election campaign

Party leader Eamon Ryan said tough choices need to be made to tackle the climate emergency.

Green party leader Eamon Ryan (centre), deputy leader Catherine Martin (left) and candidate Pippa Hackett during the Green Party’s General Election campaign launch at the Royal Society of Antiquaries in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Green party leader Eamon Ryan (centre), deputy leader Catherine Martin (left) and candidate Pippa Hackett during the Green Party’s General Election campaign launch at the Royal Society of Antiquaries in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

The Green Party have said there is no room for complacency as they set out their campaign for the General Election.

Pundits expect the party to make gains across the country as “the Green wave” continues to spread across Europe and on the back of their impressive performance in the European elections, in which they gained two MEPs.

The Greens are fielding candidates in every constituency but have ruled out running more than one in any, despite some outside encouragement to do so.

Party leader Eamon Ryan said they would be embarking on a “positive campaign” and the party’s message on the doors would be: “If you want Green, you have to vote Green.”

He also rejected the notion rural and farming communities would be reluctant to vote for his party.

“I don’t think it starts with the politics of division, saying ‘well it’s only young versus old or rural versus urban or left versus right’,” he said.

“If we’re to really do it, we’ll do it together on a politics of being willing to work and talk to others, and that’s where we come from.

“We always have – but particularly now it’s relevant because of all the analysis from the people I’ve worked over the years regarding the climate.

“If you go to Australia look at what’s happened to Australian politics on this issue, it’s a disaster.

“We don’t want to adopt that type in Ireland, we want to do it our way.”

He added: “This nonsense that Irish farming communities and the Greens are at odds with each other, we’re not, we’ve common cause in paying farmers properly for looking after our land.

“This country can be good – when we make a collective strategic decision we’re going a certain direction, we achieve it.”

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Greens leader Eamon Ryan (right) and candidate Joe O’Brien reveal the party’s election slogan (Brian Lawless/PA)

The party have been open about forming a Government with other parties and refused to be drawn on any red lines they would set down before entering a coalition.

Concerns have been flagged by some voters that the party’s green policies would be watered down in any such arrangement with one of the two major parties.

“It’s the underlying principles that are the key,” Mr Ryan said about entering government.

“Firstly, that Ireland is going to go green, we’re going to go for this, we’re going to show leadership, going to show ambition.

“Secondly, that it’s socially just, as well as ecologically sustainable.”

He added: “I think we’re better working with other parties and working with the Irish public to say ‘let’s work out the best way of doing this for us as a people and learn by doing and be willing to change’, and that approach is what’s going to work best rather than us saying ‘this is the only way, this is the only red line’.

“There’s loads and loads of red lines but it’s the underlying principles that are key for where Ireland is going in the next 10 years.

“We deliver a different economy – one that is less dependent on markets for everything, which has social justice in it’s vision of where the economy is going.

“Recognise that business has a central role but business which recognises each has a responsibility to society and to the environment.”

It won't be easy because we're changing everything Eamon Ryan on the choices Ireland will have to make

The party also acknowledged there will be hard and unpopular choices that will have to be made in Ireland to tackle the climate emergency and hit environmental targets.

“It won’t be easy because we’re changing everything,” Mr Ryan said.

“The entire transport system, the entire food system, the entire energy system for the better, it’ll take a decade at least to even start properly so this election is about the decade ahead, not just the next four or five years.

“The Irish people are ready to do it, what’s happened in the last year has changed everything.”

Mr Ryan said the millions of euros spent on motorways – including the 200 million euro major road from Castlebar to Westport, which he dubbed the “Michael Ring Road” after the Minister for Rural and Community Development – would be better spent on improved public transport systems.

The party will be using election posters in this campaign but Mr Ryan said they try to reduce and recycle when they can.

Mr Ryan added his posters almost “look like my first communion photo at this stage” as they have been reused so often.

PA

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