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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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?
  • 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?

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?

Happy where I am. Wouldn’t Taoiseach be great, because that would mean we’d have to have at least 40 Green TDs [laughing], come back to me when we have that. I said before I was on an interview, and someone asked the question would you like to be Taoiseach, I said, of course I would. Like, if you’re playing soccer, you want to play for Liverpool, of course you do, you know, be honest. But I think the likelihood of that is fairly slim. My only aspiration at this stage is managing our party into the next election and seeing how we get on. We have always had a review after every election, the party leaders position is considered and the same will happen next time.

I think to a certain extent, one of the strengths of our party at the moment is we have lots of really good people coming up and coming through. I’m just here kind of passing on some of the qualities or stuff that I learned from colleagues in the past and someone else will keep it on and who knows who will come up next. I think to a certain extent, our party is, it’s not very hierarchical. It’s more flat, diffuse kind of structure. It’s not all about the leader. It’s much more about what we’re doing as a team. I’ll be a team player for the next while

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