Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin told party members last night that she will stand against Eamon Ryan in a leadership contest next month.
As talks to form a government enter what she described as "a critically important phase", Martin told members who put her name forward for the forthcoming leadership election to that she was accepting their nomination, while admitting the timing of the election is "less than ideal". She said the circumstances are beyond her control.
Green Party rules stipulate a leadership election must happen within six months of an election and nominations are closing today.
Martin is understood to have been nominated by over 200 members - four times the number needed to secure a nomination. According to one party source, she has double the number of nominations that Ryan has.
Martin said she will refrain from campaigning until programme for government negotiations with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael conclude and any draft agreement is voted on by members. But her decision to declare her intentions was criticised by some Greens last night, one senior figure describing it as "clumsy" when last-minute attempts are being made to reach an agreement with the Civil War parties.
The three parties are attempting to broker a deal in the coming days before putting it to their respective memberships. Any deal must be backed by two-thirds of Green Party members for the party to enter government.
In her email, Martin wrote: "Our party has always cherished its inherent democratic structures and whilst it goes without saying that the timing of this election is less than ideal, the circumstances are beyond our control.
"Hence, in light of these government negotiations (which are entering a critically important phase), I will not engage in any election canvassing and campaigning whatsoever, nor will I do any media in respect of the leadership contest until such time as the crucial programme for government negotiations have concluded uninterrupted and our members have considered and voted on any deal which may arise. Once this comes to a full conclusion, I look forward to sharing with you my vision for our party."
Ballot papers will be distributed from July 1 with a result expected on July 23.