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Greens in ‘battle for attention’ ahead of June elections

The Green Party gather this weekend for their annual conference ahead of the local and European elections.

It comes at a critical time for the party, and it will highlight many of its candidates.

They will contest all three European constituencies.

MEP Ciaran Cuffe will run again in Dublin while Grace O’Sullivan will also challenge in Ireland South.

Senator Pauline O’Reilly will run in the constituency of Midlands North-West.

In addition, Limerick TD Brian Leddin is a candidate in the Limerick mayoral election which will also be held on 7 June.

The party also has a new Senator, Mal O’Hara, who will speak at this weekend’s convention on the topic of Green politics north and south.

Many of the party’s councillors will also speak on various topics, including the subject of young voters.

Director of elections for the local and European contest, Minister Roderic O’Gorman, will speak about “the battle for attention in the campaign’s final weeks”.

The Greens face a tough challenge in holding onto seats on local councils given that the party did so well in 2019, even topping polls in many parts of Dublin.

Five years on and this will be the test of how the brand is holding up after deciding to go into government again.

Polls show the Greens on low single digits in terms of support, but the party will be hoping it can do better in some areas.

Senator Mal O’Hara will speak on the topic of Green politics north and south

Returning to coalition government

After initial reluctance to go back into another coalition, party members voted overwhelmingly to join the three-party administration back in 2020.

Its 12 TDs were essential in bolstering the numbers of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

In return, the party ensured that its red lines were agreed to and were reflected in the Programme for Government.

Chief among these were emissions reduction targets and these have been legislated for and are legally binding.

The party will be hoping wins like these are proof for its supporters that the Greens have secured tangible wins in Government.

‘He has destroyed rural Ireland’

But the party is also aware that it has become a lightning rod for some in terms of discontent with the Green agenda.

The rural independents group frequently targets the Greens and especially its leader, Eamon Ryan, during its Dáil contributions.

On Tuesday, when Taoiseach Simon Harris formally updated the Dáil on the new line-up of Cabinet, Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath interrupted proceedings to ask why Eamon Ryan was being appointed to the Minister for the Environment role.

“He has destroyed rural Ireland, farming and everything else and it’s time he was moved out of there.”

That attack is a forerunner of what is likely to be aired during the upcoming elections with rural independents joined by the newly formed Independent Ireland in focusing its ire on the Green Party.

There is a clear calculation by them that such attacks will shore up their vote and will play well in their constituencies.

An additional concern for the Green Party in the general election is that many of its TDs benefitted from Sinn Féin running too few candidates in 2020.

This leaves deputies in Dublin West and Dublin South Central vulnerable as Sinn Féin will not make the same mistake next time round, although the addition of more TDs by the Electoral Commission will help.

Also likely on the agenda this weekend will be the party leadership’s position on coalition formation next time round.

All food for thought at the party faithful gather in Dublin.

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