Climate strike students and David Attenborough documentaries helped 'green wave' - Ryan
Green Party leader says it's time for government to 'wake up' to climate emergency
CLIMATE striking school students and David Attenborough documentaries helped the 'green wave' surge according to Eamon Ryan.
He said the message to the government is to "wake up" to the climate emergency and respond with action.
Mr Ryan's party is on course to take an MEP seat in Dublin and is in the running in the two other European Parliament constituencies according to the RTÉ/TG4/RedC exit poll.
Meanwhile, it is also set to increase its number of local authority seats around the country.
Mr Ryan told Independent.ie: "The green wave has been building up almost for the last year.
"It's palpable, people responded to science reports saying we have to act now.
"They were heartened by young people who were going out on climate strike - they wanted a secure future.
"Older people reacted to that. They watched David Attenborough on television saying nature is in peril, which it is."
He argued that voters are "fed up" of Ireland being described as "climate laggards".
"We're not climate laggards as a people. We are a green country. We're ready to go green."
He said it's "going to require a massive leap" but Irish people are saying they want to play their part.
Mr Ryan claimed the government needs to "wake up" adding: "a response to this can't be just symbolic".
"We have to respond to the emergency with action."
He said the National Development Plan needs to be revised and the environment needs to be stitched into everything including housing and transport policy.
"Government leads but it's coming from the bottom up as well. We need the two together. The government haven't been doing it. They need to start changing."
Mr Ryan put down a €50 bet at 50-1 that his party's Midlands/North-West candidate Saoirse McHugh will win a European Parliament seat.
She was on 12pc in the exit poll. Asked about the bet he said: "She ain't there yet.
"I know myself I was here five years ago when I had 12.5pc of the vote and just missed a seat.
"It's going to be close.
"In both Saoirse and Grace's [Grace O'Sullivan - Ireland South] case I've got fingers crossed.
"It will be a nervous weekend. If we can get those two seats in as well as Ciarán [Cuffe - Dublin] that would be remarkable."
Mr Ryan previously said his target for the next general election is for the Green Party to win six seats, up from the current two.
He said that's still his ambition.
"If we got that it would be a good day. Anything further would be a bonus."