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Saturday 20 January 2018

Profile: The Greening of new leader Eamon

Martin Riordan

The new Green party leader Eamon Ryan was born in July 1963, a few months before John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and just as The Beatles were about to change the face of popular culture for ever.

So perhaps it was no co-incidence then Ryan grew up to embrace radical politics.

He was Green TD for Dublin South for the guts of a decade, until the tide went out for his party in this February’s election.

Ryan served as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources from 2007, but his time in Government Buildings was neither happy nor fruitful.

Ryan was born in Dublin and educated at Gonzaga College and UCD, where he graduated with a commerce degree.

Before entering politics he worked as a tour operator that specialised in cycling safaris to the continent.

He first became involved in politics in 1998 when he was co-opted to Dublin’s city council. A year later he topped the poll in the local elections in Rathmines.

Ryan won a Dail seat in the 2002 general election, but he first came to national prominence when he announced his intention to seek his party’s nomination for the upcoming presidential election

But when Mary McAleese announced her intention to stand for a second term, he stood down.

Ryan was re-elected to the Dail in 2007 and, after the Green’s decision to enter coalition with Fianna Fáil, he was appointed to the cabinet.

His years in government were fraught with difficulties and, as the economy went into a steep decline, both he and the Greens found themselves fighting a rearguard action. Little of the party’s programme for government made it to the floor of the House.

He received just under 7pc of the vote in the recent election. An angry electorate was eager to get revenge on a government that it felt sold the country down the river.

The irony, as Green Party insiders saw it, was that their party was the only one in the country that had consistently warned about the speculators and developers who were at the heart of the subsequent economic crash.

As a former TD and Minister, Ryan now receives an annual pension of €50,000 and he also got a lump sum of €110,000 when his political career came to a jolting halt.

Now he has landed himself with the greatest challenge of his entire career … reviving a party that may still have its eco agenda, but has little of no electoral support.

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