Wednesday 23 October 2019

John Downing: 'Generation of younger voters get message about perils of global warming'

Ciarán Cuffe. Picture: Doug O'Connor
Ciarán Cuffe. Picture: Doug O'Connor
John Downing

John Downing

You will hear a lot about the Green Party's resurrection today. Driven to the verge of extinction in the 2011 General Election, after coalition with Fianna Fáil, which saw Ireland in a global recession, the Green Party has been slowly recovering.

Indications are that former junior urban planning minister Ciarán Cuffe will take the first Euro seat in Dublin and the party may well scrap its way to two more seats.

Its 9pc local election showing in the TG4/RTÉ exit polls suggest a strong presence in the local council chambers over the coming five years. It all tells us that a generation of younger voters get the messages about the perils of global warming and other environmental problems.

Yes, the overall numbers for the Green Party are still small. But yesterday's local council and European Parliament elections otherwise have a distinctive "more of the same" look about them. So, Eamon Ryan's party's performance is rather eye-catching.

It seems the dogged campaigner Mr Cuffe may take the first seat in the four-seat Dublin Euro constituency. In the five-seat South constituency, Senator Grace O'Sullivan is in with a fighting chance. She was on Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, when French intelligence forces sank it off New Zealand in 1985.

In four-seat Midlands-North-West Saoirse McHugh, from Achill Island, cannot be ruled out. All round this is a good election for the Green Party.

It knows that it has seen false dawns before. In May 2007 it returned six TDs, and eventually had three senators, taking a total of four posts in the coalition government team.

Two elections later it barely existed.

But it has persisted, rebuilt and benefited hugely from its links to the European and global green movement.

Now a long tough road lies ahead.

The "green agenda" recedes in times of recession. But there is a feeling from the younger generation of voters that it cannot recede too far.

Irish Independent

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