The Voice Of A Generation

#TrendsterGE20 Leaders Interview Series: Eamon Ryan

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The #TrendsterGE20 Leaders Interview Series aims to help better inform young voters ahead of the impending 2020 Irish General Election. We have requested interviews with each of the leaders, and deputy leaders of all of the major political parties in the Republic of Ireland.

The first party leader to accept our interview request was Eamon Ryan, leader of the Irish Green Party. I spoke with Eamon at his office in Leinster House on Monday, 2nd of December, 2019.

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There was a green surge in the local and European elections in May (2019), and in November (2019) your party won its first ever Dail By-Election (of course, Joe O’Brien in Dublin Fingal). Are you confident that the Green Party can replicate this success in the next General Election?
  • 1. In May (2019), Ireland became only the second country in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency (many since have followed). However, in October (2019) Ireland, yet again, missed its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and it has been admitted that reaching the 2020 emission goal is a lost cause and that the State is not on course to meet more demanding 2030 targets. My question is, when it comes to climate change is the state simply talking the talk, and failing to walk the walk?
  • 2. There was a green surge in the local and European elections in May (2019), and in November (2019) your party won its first ever Dail By-Election (of course, Joe O’Brien in Dublin Fingal). Are you confident that the Green Party can replicate this success in the next General Election?
  • 3. Based on the recent mentioned successes, and the polls, it looks likely that the Green Party will be an important coalition partner after the next General Election. If the opportunity arises, would the Green Party form a coalition government?
  • 4. You were in the last government that the Green Party were involved in back in 2007 with Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats. Are there any lessons you would take from 2007 into coalition talks, should you find yourself in that position after the next General Election?
  • 5. If elected into power, how does the Green Part plan on making the changes necessary to tackle climate change, and create a green economy, without negatively impacting the most vulnerable, and lowest earners in society?
  • 6. In May (2019), the Green Party message was ‘If you want green, vote Green’. There is no doubt that your party is committed taking action to tackle climate change, but there clearly are other issues in the country. What other key issues and problems are important to you and your party?
  • 7. Direct Provision has been in place here in Ireland for 20-years, however, in recent months the system has received a huge amount of backlash and criticism with many claiming it is ‘inhumane’. However, the Taoiseach has said the system is ‘imperfect’, not inhumane. What are your thoughts?
  • 8. In 2004 you sought your party’s nomination to be a candidate in the 2004 Presidential Election. Do you still have aspirations to be President, or is Taoiseach now the goal?

2. There was a green surge in the local and European elections in May (2019), and in November (2019) your party won its first ever Dail By-Election (of course, Joe O’Brien in Dublin Fingal). Are you confident that the Green Party can replicate this success in the next General Election?

I hope so. You’re never certain in politics. I’ve been involved in politics for 30 years plus and I’ve seen the tide come in, tide come out, and sometimes it goes out very quickly and sometimes it comes in quickly, at the moment it’s coming in for us because of public consciousness, as I said, of this climate and biodiversity crisis and the desire to address it. It’s our job, and they see us as a representative of a party which has been thinking and talking and working on this for forty years. Our job is to kind of live up to that trust. Well, first you really work hard in the local councils where we already have seats. Also to work hard in terms of seeking election. You got to go out and ask for the vote, you’ve got to organise and manage all that. But the environment is better for us than it has been at any time I can remember, I think probably maybe going back thirty years, it was really good in the late eighties for a variety of reasons, but nothing is certain yet. We have pretty much all of our candidates selected now with really good people who will be running in the general election, it’s going to be in April, May, probably could be sooner. But if the same sort of result turns out in the general election, that turned out in the by-elections, then we should win seats and then you’ve got to go from there. You’re always jumping one hurdle in politics then you realise that you’ve got to jump another one now again, we’ll see what happens. It sounds a bit like one of those football players now, one game at a time, but, the first game is the election and if you don’t win that, well you’re not going anywhere. You’ll have fallen at the first hurdle.

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