GREEN leader Eamon Ryan says his party will be using the political upheaval in the coming months to boost its profile and establish itself as a credible opposition voice.
The Green Party celebrated its 30th birthday at a concert in Vicar Street, Dublin, last night -- just over nine months after the general election wipeout which saw it lose all six of its Dail seats.
Mr Ryan took over as party leader from John Gormley in the wake of the disastrous showing, but he faces a huge task in rebuilding the organisation.
The Green Party is targeting five Dail seats and increasing its representation on local councils from 11 to 20 seats within five years, but Mr Ryan said it was still too early to say exactly how the gains would be made.
"We won't be thinking about the elections until next autumn," the former Dublin South TD said last night, adding that he was focused on getting the party back on its feet first.
"It won't be easy but it can be done, as other Greens around the world have shown."
He said the upcoming debates around any referendums on the euro and the abolition of the Seanad would offer the Greens the chance of a comeback to national politics. However, he did not say what positions the Greens would be taking on either issue.
The total collapse in state funding provided to the Greens means it only has one full-time staff member working in its Dublin office and is mostly reliant on voluntary contributions.
The weekend saw Mr Ryan launch the party's new front bench, as well as a strategy document on the party's aims for the next four years.
It hopes to raise €100,000 for each of the next three years and double party membership to 2,000 by 2016, with a particular emphasis on recruitment in colleges.
The document also mentions developing an annual festival in Carnsore, Co Wexford, which would bring together Greens from Ireland and the UK.
The party's new front bench includes former TD and junior minister Ciaran Cuffe and ex-senator Mark Dearey.
Catherine Martin, a secondary school teacher, is the deputy leader. The spokespersons will use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook as their main method of communicating with voters.
Former TDs are now focusing on different ventures, although they are active in the party.
Ex-leader John Gormley is writing for 'Village' magazine, and has also had some speaking engagements in the US. Trevor Sargent is working for Sonairte, the alternative green centre he co-founded. He is also writing a book on organic food, which will be published next year.
Mr Sargent was also a judge on the TG4 show 'Feirm Factor', which will air in January.
Former senator Dan Boyle has just released an album called 'Third Adolescence'.
Former outspoken TD Paul Gogarty is between jobs, having just finished filming the RTE TV series 'Celebrity Bainisteoir'. The former Dublin West TD has a journalism job lined up.
Mr Cuffe has returned to a lecturer's position in Dublin Institute of Technology.
Another former junior minister, ex-Carlow-Kilkenny TD Mary White, has set up a new eco-trails business on the Blackstairs Mountains in Carlow.