‘I think there’s actually a lot more of an appetite for Green politics than people let on’

Green Party members give their views on its chances in local, European elections and coalition after the next general election

Anna Murphy joined the Green Party just two weeks ago because she is involved in the all-island campaign for the rights of nature which came out of the Citizens’ Assembly.

From Galway, she is concerned that their message may not be getting across. “It’s difficult to know, especially where we’re from – it’s farming people who are already under a lot of pressure.

“The whole idea around a just transition, it’s possible for farmers to start returning some of the land to nature and restoring it but they need support to do that because they’re already struggling trying to make a living as it is.”

She says the Greens have a very strong message and farmers understand the need for a just transition but “I’m not sure it’s getting out there” and “I don’t think the farmers feel supported”.


But in towns and cities it appears to be a different situation. Michael Kennedy is a local election candidate in Drogheda. “I think there’s actually a lot more of an appetite for Green politics than people maybe let on, particularly when it comes to social media.”

People want a future for young people and families, and the Green Party is delivering improvement in their day-to-day lives and “people genuinely do see that”.

He acknowledges concerns about immigration are among the difficult issues.

“There’s been a deliberate attempt by far-right agitators to mainstream that and make it a more pressing topic for the parties.

“But overall I’ve been quite proud that the Green Party hasn’t fallen into that trap and has made sure that it stands alongside and in solidarity with anyone seeking safety.”

Andrew Holt, a student in Dublin Bay South believes that “in general the smaller parties are going to do better than the people expect and the larger parties are going to do worse than the people expect”.

He believes party leader and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan is “doing very well on a policy perspective. Things are improving so public transport fares got halved and there are cycle lanes coming in so I’m using those more now, it’s very good.”

Dún Laoghaire constituency member Danielle Byrne is confident the party will do well in the local elections.

“I think we’ll do better than the naysayers believe,” she says.

We’re canvassing hard through Dún Laoghaire, Blackrock and Killiney Shankill. And we’re getting a very good reception on the doors.”

Some people might say there is some negativity towards the party “but there is a lot of positivity and enough positive to carry us through the local elections”.

And she’s confident the party will do well in the European elections as well. “We’d be very confident about Ciarán Cuffe. He’s a very good and communicative MEP, but I’m a townie and I wouldn’t know about outside Dublin.”

Ms Murphy said “we really need Green people there if we want to change what’s happening to the planet with the drive towards growth and extractive industries”.

She pointed to the shift to the right across the EU and despite all the hard work done on the nature restoration law “and it looked like it was going to win and then it was rowed back on”.

Paola Serrano, a PhD student in sustainability and advocacy, who joined the party a year ago and got involved in University of Galway voter registration rallies “because the important thing is to boost participation.

“This is the first election I am involved in, in Ireland but I’ve seen a rising concern with climate and sustainability and actions that we need to take to avoid climate disaster – more than we’re already in.”

As for post general election possibilities “for a coalition with too many parties the Green Party will be the one upholding the climate. Other parties like Labour would put more emphasis on climate but a coalition with them may not be in the works currently.”

Mr Holt said a Greens-Social Democrats coalition “is my preferred option, but that’s obviously not realistic. I guess Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil Greens, that could be realistic.”

Ms Murphy said she would look at coalition through a rights of nature lens. “To be honest with the rights of nature Fianna Fáil came out quite strongly in support of it. And Sinn Féin. And Fine Gael seemed much more conservative on the idea of rights of nature, although there were some supporters amongst them as well.”

Mr Kennedy is convinced the Green Party will be government contenders after the general election. And “there is definitely not going to be a wipeout of the Greens”.

He would prefer a coalition with any party prepared to take climate seriously but he thinks only Labour and the Social Democrats do. “Realistically the bigger parties are not that active on climate but there is a space there in any coalition for the Green Party to make sure there is a serious change on climate issues.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times