Monday 23 October 2017

'Show us love' ask Green Party faithful who dream of three or four seats in the Dáil

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and candidate Maebh Ní Fhallúin. Photo: Mark Condren
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and candidate Maebh Ní Fhallúin. Photo: Mark Condren
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

'Not like this," instructs a post-it note over an unsmiling poster on the walls of the Green Party HQ. The picture is of John Gormley, their former party leader.

The new face of the Greens is a positive and a beaming one. They're not out to frighten us - though they might have done in the past with the hefty environmental taxes they brought in when they formed part of their disastrous coalition with Fianna Fáil. Climate change targets are not the 'catastrophe' declared by Enda Kenny - they are "an opportunity" to create our own energy resources, according to the Greens.

Their 40 candidates around the country include two bona fide surfers and an artisan cheese maker.

They've hired a young designer from London to do up positive, cool brightly-coloured hipster-vibe election campaign posters.

One depicts planet Earth with the pleading message: "Show Me Love".

And the Green Party wouldn't mind a bit of that love either, presumably.

But can they actually rehabilitate themselves to the point of winning seats?

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan is sounding almost relentlessly ebullient as he gives us the hard sell in solar power from the 'cockpit' of the Green Building in Dublin's Temple Bar - all lovely and eco-friendly, bar the toxic can of cheap furniture polish hiding away in the corner.

Losing the court battle to be allowed onto the leaders debates had been unfortunate, he conceded - but they will get their message out "in other ways".

There is a brief foray to the roof of the building for photographic purposes - via a shaky aluminium ladder.

There's a backdrop of the Central Bank.

"Oh no," groans the party press officer. "We don't need that." Afterwards, they take to Grafton Street and environs for a brief canvass.

It's a tough beat, between the tourists and the indifferent, but finally some Green fans come forward.

Celia Keenan from Dublin shakes his hand with vigour.

"It's good to see you back. We need you," she says.

She tells him that she dislikes a lot of what this government has done with planning.

Ryan agrees with her. He feels that neither Enda Kenny nor Environment Minister Alan Kelly take the environment seriously.

Eamon Gilmore as Tánaiste did listen to his advice on such issues - but only at Ryan's own instigation, he says.

He recalls the bailout as though it were yesterday. "I was listening to the other side - to Joan Burton and Richard Bruton and I didn't hear an alternative," he says.

There was no "sense of entitlement" after the annihilation of the Greens in the election. "None of us were from political dynasties or started young," he explains.

He has spent the last five years working with - an environmental consultancy firm, travelling to "Paris, Berlin, London" every second week.

It's given him the realisation that "we aren't that bad in this country".

"They always say we have to be more like Sweden - I can tell you, Sweden ain't no Eden."

But he thinks we should be collaborating with tech companies who are eager for more green energy options.

"IBM set up Smart Cities lab here looking to make Ireland a test location and I don't think they've gotten that support in making it really a test location," he says.

He wants the Greens back in the Dáil, influencing thinking on these types of issues. Asked his chances, he laughs: "My wife says I always think I have a chance." But his dream would be "three or four seats".

Irish Independent

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