Green Party (Ireland)

Green Party (Ireland)
Green Party
Comhaontas Glas
Leader Eamon Ryan
Chairman Dan Boyle
Secretary-General Vacant
Deputy leader Catherine Martin
Northern Ireland Assembly leader Steven Agnew MLA
Founded 1981 (1981)
Headquarters 16-17 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
Youth wing Young Greens
Ideology Green politics
International affiliation Global Greens
European affiliation European Green Party
European Parliament Group European Greens–European Free Alliance
Official colours Green and gold
Northern Ireland Assembly
1 / 108
Local government in the Republic of Ireland
13 / 1,627
Local government in Northern Ireland
3 / 582
Politics of the Republic of Ireland
Political parties
Politics of Northern Ireland
Political parties

The Green Party (Irish: Comhaontas Glas) is a green political party in Ireland. It was founded as the Ecology Party of Ireland in 1981 by Dublin teacher Christopher Fettes. The party became the Green Alliance in 1983 and in 1987 was renamed to its current title in English. Its leader is Eamon Ryan and its chairman is Dan Boyle.

Green Party candidates have been elected to all levels of representation; local, Dáil and European Parliament, and in 2007 the party gained its first representation in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Northern Ireland party having become a region of the Irish party in the previous year.

The Greens became part of the Irish government for the first time following the Irish general election, 2007, having agreed upon a programme for government in coalition with Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats. In the wake of the Irish financial crisis, the party came under pressure to withdraw its support for the administration. Party leader John Gormley called publicly in November 2010 for a general election in the state to be fixed by the latter half of January 2011, allowing time for the Oireachtas to pass legislation for European Union and International Monetary Fund financial support for Ireland; the date of the election was eventually set for March 2011. With further postponements threatened by Fianna Fáil, and increasingly dissatisfied with their larger coalition partner, the party announced its withdrawal from government on 23 January 2011.[1] This brought forward the election date to 25 February 2011; in the process, all six Green Party TDs lost their seats. Following the 2011 Seanad Éireann election, the party no longer has any representatives in the Oireachtas. It has one representative in the Northern Ireland Assembly.



The party's first electoral outing was when 7 candidates contested the November 1982 general election under the Ecology Party banner, winning 0.2% of the vote. Following a name-change, they contested the 1984 European Parliament elections, with their party founder winning 1.9% in the Dublin constituency. The following year they won their first election when Marcus Counihan was elected to Killarney Urban District Council during the 1985 Local Elections. The party nationally ran 34 candidates and won 0.6% of the vote. The party continued to struggle until the general election of 1989 when the again renamed party won its first seat in parliament, the Dáil, when Roger Garland was elected in Dublin South. In the 1994 European Parliament election Patricia McKenna topped the poll for the Dublin Constituency and Nuala Ahern won a seat in Leinster. They retained their seats in 1999. In the general election of 1997 the party gained a seat when John Gormley won a Dáil seat in Dublin South East. At the general election of 2002 that it made a breakthrough, getting 6 Teachtaí Dála (TDs) elected to the Dáil with 4% of the national vote. However, in the election to the European Parliament of June 2004, the party lost both of the European Parliament seats. In the 2004 local elections at county level it increased its number of councillors from 8 to 18 out of 883 and at town council level its number of councillors increased from 5 to 14 out of 744. However, the vast majority of its seats were lost at the 2009 council elections, including its entire traditional Dublin base, where - with the exception of a Town Council Seat in Balbriggan - it now holds no council seats at all in Dublin and only three County Council seats in total. It has about fifteen hundred members.


The National Executive Committee is the organising committee of the party. It comprises the party leader Eamon Ryan, deputy leader Catherine Martin, Chair Dan Boyle, Young Greens representative, Treasurer and ten members elected annually at the party convention.[2] As of 01 August 2011, its 15 members are:[3] Eamon Ryan – Leader, Catherine Martin – Deputy Leader, Dan Boyle – Chairman, Martin Nolan – Treasurer, Catherine Fravalo – Deputy National Coordinator, Micheal Callaghan – Young Greens, Damian Connon, Roderic O'Gorman, Claire Bailey, Dominick Donnelly – National Coordinator, Steven Agnew, Marianne Butler, Darcy Longergan, Trish Forde-Brennan and Stan Nangle.


The party did not have a national leader until 2001. At a special "Leadership Convention" in Kilkenny on 6 October 2001, Trevor Sargent was elected the first official leader of the Green Party. He was re-elected to this position in 2003 and again in 2005. The party's constitution requires that a leadership election be held within six months of a general election.

Sargent resigned the leadership in the wake of the general election to the 30th Dáil. During the campaign, Sargent had promised that he would not lead the party into Government with Fianna Fáil.[4] In the election outcome the party retained 6 Dáil seats, making them the most likely partner for Fianna Fáil. Sargent and the party negotiated a coalition government and at the 12 June 2007 membership meeting to approve the agreement, he announced his resignation as leader.

In the subsequent leadership election, John Gormley became the new leader on 17 July 2007, defeating Patricia McKenna by 478 votes to 263. Mary White was subsequently elected as the deputy Leader. John Gormley served as Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government from July 2007 until the Green Party's decision to exit Government in December 2010.

Following the election defeat of 2011, John Gormley announced his intention not to seek another term as Green Party leader. Eamon Ryan was elected as the new party leader, over party colleagues Phil Kearney and Cllr Malcolm Noonan in a postal ballot election of party members in May 2011. Monaghan based former councillor Catherine Martin defeated Down based Dr John Barry and former Senator Mark Dearey to the post of Deputy Leader on 11 June 2011 during the party's annual convention.

The Green Party had six seats in the Irish government but lost them all in the 2011 general election.[5] Party Chairman Dan Boyle and Déirdre de Búrca were nominated by the Taoiseach to Seanad Éireann after the formation of the Fianna Fáil–PD–Green Party government in 2007 and Niall Ó Brolcháin elected in December 2009. De Búrca resigned in February 2010, and was replaced by Mark Dearey. Neither Dan Boyle or Niall O'Brolchain were re-elected to Seanad Eireann in the Seanad election of 2011, meaning the Green Party is currently without Oireachtas representation.

Irish and European politics

The Green Party is an all-island party, with a Region in each of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. (The former Green Party in Northern Ireland voted to become a region of the Irish Green Party in 2005 at its Annual Convention, and again in a postal ballot in March 2006.[citation needed]) Brian Wilson, formerly a councillor for the Alliance Party, won the Green Party's first seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly in the 2007 election.

The Irish Green Party is a member of the European Green Party. Though it previously held a more eurosceptic stance than is usually articulated by most other green parties in Europe, the party backed the Lisbon Treaty with support from two thirds of the party.[6]

Dáil election 2007

Although the party's share of first preference votes increased by some 22% from 3.84% to 4.69% nationally in the 2007 general election, held on 24 May 2007, the party failed to increase the number of TDs returned. Mary White won a seat for the first time in Carlow-Kilkenny however, Dan Boyle lost his seat in Cork South Central leaving the party with the same number of TDs as before. Those elected were:

Name Constituency
Mary White Carlow–Kilkenny
Paul Gogarty Dublin Mid West
Trevor Sargent Dublin North
John Gormley Dublin South East
Eamon Ryan Dublin South
Ciarán Cuffe Dún Laoghaire

Local and European Elections 2009

In the 2009 European Election the party received 1.9% of the vote nationally (a reduction of 2% since 2004) and no candidate was elected.[7]

In the 2009 local elections in the Republic the party received 2.3% of the vote nationally (a reduction of 1% since 2004) and 3 candidates were elected to County Councils compared to 18 previously.[8] It also had 15 candidates elected to town and borough councils. However one councillor has since resigned from the party [9]

In Government

The Green Party entered into [the Irish] government with Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats on 14 June 2007, gaining two senior ministers John Gormley, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Eamon Ryan, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Trevor Sargent was named the junior minister for Minister of State for Food and Horticulture, however Sargeant later resigned the position in 2010. On 23 March 2010, the Green Party gained two new junior ministries. Ciaran Cuffe was appointed as Minister for Horticulture, Sustainable Travel, Planning and Heritage. Mary White was appointed as Minister for Equality, Human Rights and Integration. Both Cuffe and White resigned their positions on 23 January 2011, following the decision of the Green Party to leave Government.

The Green Party had approached the 2007 General Election in the Republic on an independent platform, ruling out no coalition partners while expressing its preference for an alternative to the incumbent coalition.[10][11] The results of the election ruled out the possibility of a Fine Gael/Labour/Green government without support from a combination of the Progressive Democrats, Sinn Féin and various independents (77 seats) leaving it 7 seats short of a majority.[12] Fine Gael ruled out a potential coalition arrangement with Sinn Féin [13] opening the way for Green Party negotiations with Fianna Fáil.

Negotiations for Government

Before the negotiations began Ciarán Cuffe wrote on his blog that "a deal with Fianna Fáil would be a deal with the devil... and [the Green Party would be] decimated as a Party.".[14] The negotiations were undertaken by Dan Boyle, Donall Geoghegan (the party's general secretary) and the at that time party Chair John Gormley. The Green Party walked out after 6 days in what Donall Geoghegan later said was due to there not being "enough in [the deal] to allow [the Green Party] to continue".[15] The negotiations restarted on 11 June with a draft programme for government being agreed one day later, which under party rules needed 66% of members to endorse it at a special convention.[16][17] On 13 June 2007, Green members in the Mansion House, Dublin, voted 86% in favour (441 to 67; with 2 spoilt votes) of entering coalition with Fianna Fáil. The following day, the six Green Party TDs voted for the re-election of Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach.[18] This was the first time the Green Party had entered government in Ireland.


Before their entry into government, the Green Party were vocal supporters of the Shell to Sea movement,[19] the campaign to reroute the M3 motorway away from Tara and (to a lesser extent) the campaign to end United States military use of Shannon airport.[20] Since the Green Party entered government, there has been no substantive change in government policy on these issues, which meant that Eamon Ryan oversaw the Corrib gas project while he was in office. The Green Party made an inquiry into the irregularities surrounding the project (see Corrib gas controversy) a precondition of government at their last annual conference[21] but changed their stance during post-election negotiations with Fianna Fáil. The County Mayo branch of the party still supports efforts to relocate the refinery to an alternative location.[22]

2008 Budget

The 2008 budget, announced on 6 December 2007, did not include a carbon levy on fuels such as petrol, diesel and home heating oil, which the Green Party had sought before the election.[23] A carbon levy was however introduced in the 2010 Budget.[24] The 2008 budget did include a separate carbon budget announced by Gormley,[25] which introduced new energy efficiency tax credit,[23] a ban on incandescent bulbs from January 2009,[26] a tax scheme incentivising commuters' purchases of bicycles[27] and a new scale of Vehicle Registration Tax based on carbon emissions.[28]

Treaty of Lisbon

In 2007, the Green Party launched an internal debate on the party's stance on the Treaty of Lisbon. At a special convention on 19 January 2008 to consider whether or not to support what would become the Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, the party voted 63.5% in favour of supporting the Lisbon Treaty fell short of the party's two-third majority requirement for policy issues. As a result, the Green Party did not participate in the referendum debate, although individual members were involved on different sides [29]

Following the Irish Government's negotiation with EU member states of additional legal guarantees and assurances, and the subsequent adoption by Dáil and Seanad Éireann of the Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution Bill (2009), the Green Party held another special convention meeting in Dublin on 18 July 2009 to decide its position on the second Lisbon referendum. At the meeting precisely two thirds of party members present voted to campaign for a Yes in the referendum . This was the first time in the party's history that it campaigned in favour of a European treaty.[6]

Resignations in 2010

In 2010, Déirdre de Búrca, one of two Green Party Senators nominated by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2007, resigned from the party and her seat, in part due to Gormley's inability to secure her a job in the European Commission.[30] On 23 February 2010, Trevor Sargent, one of six Green Party TDs, and former leader of the party from 2001 to 2007, resigned as [31] Minister of State for Food and Horticulture due to allegations over contacting Gardaí about a criminal case involving a constituent.

Withdrawal from Government

On 23 January 2011, the Green Party met with Taoiseach Brian Cowen following his resignation as leader of coalition partner Fianna Fáil the previous afternoon.[32] The Green Party then announced it was withdrawing from governing the country and took its place on the opposition benches with immediate effect.[1] Green Party leader John Gormley said at a press conference announcing the withdrawal:

For a very long time we in the Green Party have stood back in the hope that Fianna Fáil could resolve persistent doubts about their party leadership. A definitive resolution of this has not yet been possible. And our patience has reached an end.[33][34]

The party had two ministers: Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley and Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan. These were reassigned to Fianna Fáil ministers Éamon Ó Cuív and Pat Carey respectively.[35] Green Ministers of State Ciarán Cuffe and Mary White also resigned from their roles.[35]

Government record

In almost four years in Government, from 2007–2011, the party were said to have succeeded in, among other areas, the passage of civil partnership legislation granting significant rights to same-sex couples,[36] the introduction of major planning reform,[37] a major increase in renewable energy output,[38] and a nationwide scheme of home insulation retrofitting.[39]

2011 elections

The party suffered a wipeout at the 2011 general election in the Republic, with all of its six TDs losing their seats, including those of former Ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan. Three out of their six incumbent TDs lost their deposits. The party's share of the vote fell below 2%, meaning that they could not reclaim election expenses, and their lack of parliamentary representation led to the ending of state funding for the party. This financial crisis makes it likely that the Greens will be forced to close their Dublin office and make "some if not all" of their staff redundant.[40]

The candidates in the 2011 Seanad election were Dan Boyle and Niall Ó Brolcháin, but neither were elected, and as a result for the first time since 1989, the Greens have no representatives in the Oireachtas.

Eamon Ryan was elected as party leader on 27 May 2011, succeeding John Gormley.[41]

General election results in the Republic of Ireland

Election Dáil Share of votes Seats Outcome of election
1987 25th 0.4% 0 Fianna Fáil government
1989 26th 1.5% 1 Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats government
1992 27th 1.4% 1 Fianna Fáil–Labour Party[A]
1997 28th 2.8% 2 Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats government
2002 29th 3.8% 6 Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats government
2007 30th 4.7% 6 Fianna Fáil–Green Party–Progressive Democrats government
2011 31st 1.8% 0 Fine Gael–Labour Party government

A In December 1994, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Democratic Left entered into government without a general election being called.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Green Party withdraws from Government". RTÉ News and Current Affairs (RTÉ). 23 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Structures of the Green Party". 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  3. ^ "Our people". Retrieved 2011-01-08. 
  4. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan (24 February 2010). "Ethical minister hoist with own petard". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b John Gormley (18 July 2009). "Greens back Lisbon Yes". Green Party. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  7. ^ "RTÉ News: Elections 2009 - European Elections". 2009-06-09. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  8. ^ "2009 Local Elections". Elections Ireland. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  9. ^ "Green Party councillor resigns". The Irish Times. 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  10. ^ RTE (25 February 2007). "Poll shows loss of support for FF". Retrieved 2009-01-17. [dead link]
  11. ^ John Gormley (24 February 2007). "Speech to Green Party Convention 2007". John Gormley's blog. Retrieved 2008-01-14. [dead link]
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Rainbow coalition is still possible, says Kenny". The Irish Times. 28 May 2007. p. 8. 
  14. ^ Ciarán Cuffe (28 May 2007). "Great to be back". Cuffe Street (Ciarán Cuffe's blog). Retrieved 1 July 2008. 
  15. ^ "Green senator saw red during tough negotiations with Fianna Fáil". Irish Independent. 23 August 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  16. ^ "Ahern and Sargent in govt talks". RTÉ 9 O'Clock News. 11 June 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2009. [dead link]
  17. ^ "FF & GP agree draft programme for govt". RTÉ 9 O'Clock News. 12 June 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2009. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Greens vote to enter FF-led coalition". RTÉ 9 O'Clock News. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2009. [dead link]
  19. ^ Shell to Sea' campaign gets cross-party support –, 21 November 2006.
  20. ^ Military use of Shannon not a campaign issue, but now contentious – Village, 12 June 2007
  21. ^ Prominent Shell to Sea activist to oversee Corrib project –, 16 June 2007.
  22. ^ Connaught Telegraph, July 5, 2008
  23. ^ a b Treacy Hogan (6 December 2007). "'Green' Budget signals war on climate change". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  24. ^ "Green Party Leader addresses Dáil on Budget 2010 / Latest news / News / Home - Green Party / Comhaontas Glas". 2009-12-10. Retrieved 2011-01-23. 
  25. ^ John Gormley (6 December 2007). "Gormley delivers carbon budget". Green Party. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  26. ^ Treacy Hogan (7 December 2007). "Gormley lights the way with ban on bulbs". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  27. ^ John Cradden (2 December 2008). "Get on yer bike". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  28. ^ Senan Molony (6 December 2007). "So, how Green was it for you? Just look at red-faced drivers". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  29. ^ de Bréadún, Deaglán (21 January). "Greens will not take party stance on Lisbon Treaty". The Irish Times: p. 1. 
  30. ^ "Greens silent on de Búrca claim FF failed to honour deal - The Irish Times - Tue, Feb 16, 2010". The Irish Times. 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2011-01-23. 
  31. ^ "Sargent resigns as Minister of State". RTÉ News. 23 February 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  32. ^ "Ireland's Green party considers whether to stay in government". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). 23 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  33. ^ "Green Party statement". The Irish Times (Irish Times Trust). 24 January 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  34. ^ "Green Party quits Irish coalition government". BBC News (BBC). 23 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  35. ^ a b "O Cuiv and Carey get vacant ministerial posts". Irish Examiner (Thomas Crosbie Holdings). 23 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  36. ^ Paul Cullen (01 Jan 2011). "Partnership law comes into effect". Irish Times. Retrieved 16 Jan 2011. 
  37. ^ Green Party (15 July 2011). "Planning bill marks new era for how we plan for our future". Green Party. Retrieved 16 Jan 2011. 
  38. ^ "New record for Irish wind power output". Irish Energy News. 9 January 2011. Retrieved 16 Jan 2011. 
  39. ^ The Irish Times (02 Feb 2009). "€100m insulation scheme to benefit 50,000 homes". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 Jan 2011. 
  40. ^ McGee, Harry (1 March 2011). "Failure to get votes likely to result in party's office closing". The Irish Times. 
  41. ^ "Eamon Ryan elected Green Party leader". RTÉ News. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 

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