'Whose vote would be swayed by the Hulk?': Greens split on Mark Ruffalo Zoom call

The Spotlight star, and long time anti-fracking campaigner, urged members to support the programme for government, which would stop the import of fracked gas to Ireland.
'Whose vote would be swayed by the Hulk?': Greens split on Mark Ruffalo Zoom call
Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo during a Zoom call with Green Party members

The Green Party has been both criticised and praised by their membership after leader Eamon Ryan held a teleconference with Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo.

The Spotlight star, and long time anti-fracking campaigner, urged members to support the programme for government, which would stop the import of fracked gas to Ireland.

The Programme for Government agreed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green negotiators states:

As Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, we do not believe that it make sense to develop LNG gas import terminals importing fracked gas. Accordingly, we shall withdraw the Shannon LNG terminal from the EU Projects of Common Interest list in 2021.

Mr Ruffalo, who joined a number of climate activists, including Mr Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin in the hour-long Zoom meeting, said stopping the US fracked gas import terminal in the Shannon Estuary that would export fracked gas from Northeast Pennsylvania is "crucial for our shared climate, as well as for the public health of Americans.”

Mr Ruffalo told those present he was brought into the movement after hearing the stories of people who had been made ill by Pennsylvania's environmental policies.

Sadhbh O'Neill, a lecturer in environmental politics and Policy Officer for Stop Climate Chaos Ireland, says she had reservations about the intervention from the film star, she found the meeting beneficial.

"I found him very clued in, the beautiful thing about him coming in, is he really put our options here into a global perspective," she said.

"I was a bit cagey about it as there is a political discussion going on, and having this famous actor in, but it was actually very refreshing and brought a global perspective, that is important," she said.

"The impacts of these policies stretch far and wide, it's not just about Shannon Estuary, but the impact on those communities where that gas is imported from.

"That's where Mark Ruffalo came in, to discuss those communities and the impacts on those people and the atmosphere.

"The global dimension was brought to bear on the discussion about LNG, and I also think it will put pressure on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to come out and say; 'We're sincere about this', they've nowhere to hide on it.

"It's a good news story."

Likewise, councillor Michael Pigeon said: "I can see why people don't like the idea, but ultimately it brought several hundred people to a call to hear about the dangers of fracking and how we can support communities fighting against it. I'm not sure that would have happened without Mark's presence."

However, some of those within the party have criticised the move as a "gimmick".

"The general consensus internally (and externally) is that this is thoroughly embarrassing," one member said.

It makes no sense now anyway. Whose vote would be swayed by the Hulk in the party? This is more of a general election thing.

The secretary of the party's policy council Harry McEvansonya tweeted that Mr Ruffalo's inclusion was "a complete and utter embarrassment", while

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"What we're getting in the programme for government is not going to provide us with a cast-iron guarantee that that infrastructure isn't going to be put in place.

"Leo Varadkar said to his own party that this isn't going to stop a private company applying to Bord Plenala and going through the entire process again."

The votes for the draft programme for government will be counted on Friday, June 26.

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