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Sunday 18 February 2018

Party will 'reinvent itself and grow' after the polls

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Green Party minister Eamon Ryan has lashed the Labour Party's record in coalition and accused the party of having the same people at the top for decades.

Mr Ryan rejects the idea he would join another party if the Greens got wiped out in the 2011 General Election.

"I wouldn't have an objection to another party (but) I'm a Green," he said.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, the minister also admitted he would be interested in being leader of the Greens some day.

But for now, Mr Ryan can't guarantee he will hold his seat or if there will be any Green TDs after the election.

But he said: "It's important there is a Green Party element in the Dail. The Dail would miss it if there wasn't a Green Party."

"There will be a Green Party in Ireland, (but) we may have to start and grow it again."

Mr Ryan contrasts the evolution of the Greens with Labour in the 1980s and '90s.

"I think one of the exciting things ahead is we will get a Green Party that's got a whole lot of new young people involved and making decisions. It is an opportunity to reinvent.


"They (Labour) didn't reinvent. They didn't hand over power," he said.

The Green minister also attacked the Labour Party for its record in coalition.

Pointing to Labour's abrupt exit from coalition with Fianna Fail in 1990s over the Harry Whelehan-Fr Brendan Smith affair and the tensions with Fine Gael in the 1980s where the coalition was "unable to act", he said their instability in government effectively handed power over to the PDs.

"They exited stage left but didn't get their policies implemented. There was an opening for a modern, progressive party. The Labour Party didn't grab it," he said.

Ahead of a General Election, Mr Ryan warned against easy and populist solutions being put forward by the opposition parties. "Unfortunately, people still seem to be attracted to that -- look at Sinn Fein, Labour and Fine Gael, to a lesser degree."

Defending the Greens' record in coalition with Fianna Fail, Mr Ryan said when he spoke with British deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg he found they shared similar experiences.

Mr Ryan said the renegotiation of the Programme for Government was a "genuine piece of hardball negotiation" and the Greens also had to battle with Fianna Fail on the budgets, especially on investment and education spending.

Irish Independent

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