A major split in the Green Party is afoot as four prominent councillors are calling on Catherine Martin to challenge Eamon Ryan’s leadership.
The group of four say Mr Ryan is no longer the right person to lead the party and are urging Ms Martin, the party’s deputy leader to challenge him.
The Green Party constitution mandates that a leadership election must happen within six months of a general election. The election takes place by postal vote of all Green Party members.
That leadership election was announced as being open for nominations on Tuesday, May 19 and was triggered after the general election on February 8.
Cork city and county councillors – Lorna Bogue, Colette Finn, Oliver Moran and Liam Quaide – have written to Ms Martin “urging” her to stand.
The letter, seen by the, says Ms Martin is the right person to lead the party, whether they are in government or not.
“We believe the party needs a new leader, someone who will fight hard for all of our futures. We urge you to put yourself forward as a candidate for the leadership of the Green Party. You have our support,” they write.
You have remained true to yourself and demonstrated real authenticity and integrity.
"We have watched you negotiate hard, persuade and influence, and have seen you win many concessions while gaining a reputation as a formidable parliamentarian. It is clear that you are prepared to make difficult choices for the greater good,” they add.
Cllr Moran, explaining his position said he voted for Eamon in 2011 and in 2016 he signed his nomination papers.
“I don’t think anyone else could have done the job he did when we needed him most. But we cannot be sentimental. The urgency and challenge is too great.
"Just as Eamon was the right person then, Catherine is the right person now. She has a harder nose. She’s surer in the Dáil,” he said.
Ms Finn said: “Eamon Ryan has led the party through very lean times and I thank him for that. However, I believe that it is time for a leadership change. I believe Catherine Martin is the best person to lead that change.”
Attempts to contact Ms Martin were unsuccessful.
The letter sent to Catherine Martin by four Cork-based Councillors
We know now is a very busy and challenging time for you as you lead the Green Party’s negotiations for a programme for government. We also know that you are working diligently to secure the best possible outcomes for both the country and for the Green Party, ensuring our environmental, sustainability and social justice policies are reflected in the discussions with the other parties.
As you know, the Party will soon open nominations for the position of Party leader. While we hesitate to ask you to take on an additional role at this time, we believe you are the right person to lead the Green Party into the new decade:
In February Ireland voted for change. We believe, with your style of leadership, your convictions, and your work ethic, that you are the right person to lead the Green Party. We have worked with you, and have seen you work with others, working collaboratively within the political system to drive real and lasting change. Through your on-the-ground campaigning, and work as a TD over the past four years, you have reached out to people and made a real difference to their lives. You have demonstrated that you are a powerful communicator with an ability to win hearts and minds. In those four years you, as a new TD, went from seeking and achieving the extension of maternity leave and benefit for mothers of premature babies, to setting up and chairing the Oireachtas Women’s Caucus, to topping the poll in Dublin Rathdown in the most recent election.
During your time in local government and the Oireachtas you have remained true to yourself and demonstrated real authenticity and integrity. We have watched you negotiate hard, persuade and influence, and have seen you win many concessions while gaining a reputation as a formidable parliamentarian. It is clear that you are prepared to make difficult choices for the greater good.
While putting in a herculean effort in our Dáil you have also prioritised the grass roots of the Green Party. You have reached out and supported the Young Greens, Mná Glasa and the Glasa Aiteacha, supporting and encouraging more women, younger people and LGBT people to get involved in politics, supporting people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds to stand up for what they believe in, and even to run for election. Coming from rural Monaghan, and with your experience as an educator in a DEIS Scoil, we believe you are the person to lead this Party, to build it further and to inspire people from disparate communities to get involved in the Green movement.
The coming leadership election will be set against the backdrop of the negotiations for a programme for government, and regardless of the outcome of these talks, we will need a leader who we trust to do the right thing for the country and the party. Whether we enter government or not, we believe the party needs a new leader, someone who will fight hard for all of our futures.
We urge you to put yourself forward as a candidate for the leadership of the Green Party. You have our support.
Cllr Lorna Bogue
Cllr Colette Finn
Cllr Oliver Moran
Cllr Liam Quaide