Saturday 25 March 2017

Greens pick over bones of wipeout

Gormley's leadership not on agenda

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

THE Green Party is to debate its election wipeout and its future role in politics at a conference next weekend.

But the leadership of former Environment Minister John Gormley is not expected to be addressed at the gathering, where the party will attempt to begin the rebuilding process.

In what is being titled the 'Greens Regather and Refocus Day', members will meet next Saturday for a post-mortem on the devastating election result in which they all lost their Dail seats.

The party now has no TDs, no senators and just three county councillors.

It also failed to reach 2pc in national support at the election -- cutting off its statutory funding and leaving it with a massive financial problem.

It may now have to close its headquarters on Suffolk Street in Dublin and let staff go, having obtained just 1.8pc of the national vote.

Mark Dearey, who was a Taoiseach's nominee to the Seanad and is unlikely to return, said the conference would focus on how the party can take its "first tentative steps back to political success".

Astonished

Asked if there was a PD-style wind-down, Mr Dearey said: "That's not even close to the radar. There's no sense of that. I'd be astonished if even one person talked about closing up. It would be met with a wall of disbelief."

The party will meet in the Hilton Hotel at Charlemont Place in Dublin from 10.30am next Saturday.

It is expected that key figures such as Mr Gormley, Ciaran Cuffe, Eamon Ryan and Dan Boyle will pledge to work voluntarily to rebuild the party.

The leadership issue is not expected to be finalised next week and may be deferred for a few months.

Mr Gormley, who lost his seat in Dublin South East, has been party leader since 2007 when Trevor Sargent resigned. Rather than hold the traditional "didactic and plenary-style sessions", the conference will be a mixture of input from members along with "cafe-style discussions" in small groups.

Former junior minister Mr Cuffe, who lost his seat in Dun Laoghaire, said the issues the Greens had campaigned on hadn't gone away.

The issues of peak oil, energy security and climate change must remain in focus, he said in a message on his website.

"The Green movement will remain as a force in Irish politics. Perhaps though we need to listen more, and lecture less. Perhaps we need to lead the way, but not instruct people that they have to follow us," he said.

Irish Independent

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