Eamon Ryan stuns Leinster House with Senator Pippa Hackett appointment

Eamon Ryan stuns Leinster House with Senator Pippa Hackett appointment
Ms Hackett will be Minister of State for Agriculture with responsibility for land use and biodiversity.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has shocked many around Leinster House and within his own party by choosing Senator Pippa Hackett as his party's super junior Minister.

Ms Hackett will be Minister of State for Agriculture with responsibility for land use and biodiversity.

Ms Hackett, a farmer from Offaly, and the party's spokesperson for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine was elected to the Seanad in a by-election in November last year. The vacancy was caused by the election of Grace O'Sullivan to the European Parliament in May.

It's understood Ms Hackett rallied support for Eamon Ryan after he recently used a racial slur in the Dáil, and had attempted to bring the party back behind the leader after many voiced considerable outrage at the incident, support that did not go unnoticed by party leader.

Ms Hackett was also a vocal supporter of the programme for government.

Choosing Ms Hackett for the role has been seen as a slight on those who did not support the programme for government within the party, with key TDs, such as Neasa Hourigan being overlooked. It's understood Limerick TD Brian Leddin had been seen as the "consensus" candidate for the party to take the super junior role, which would have rallied the membership.

The Green Party are still reeling from a division in their membership over the coalition, and had hoped Mr Ryan would choose a TD who had opposed the deal in order to extend an olive branch to disaffected members.

One such member said of today's appointment: "I think this is probably them showing us the door"

Another party source called the appointment "indefensible", while others said that it would harm party morale ahead of the leadership race.

"We're supposed to be healing and moving forward, but Eamon is playing favourites," they said.

"It's not exactly the action of someone who is ready to extend the olive branch."

Another party source added: "People had just about rallied last night, about forming a decent opposition within, I can't see people being happy."

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