Former MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh leaves Green Party

Former MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh leaves Green Party
Saoirse McHugh has opposed entering coalition with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Picture : Gareth Chaney/Collins

The former Green Party MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh has left the Green Party. 

Ms McHugh, a prominent member from Achill Island, announced that she would be leaving Eamon Ryan’s party on Thursday morning via social media.

She criticised the current government's programme for government as the main reason for her decision. 

Ms McHugh said her reasons for leaving were “obvious” and that she had become disillusioned with the party over the last year. 

She, among others, had be vocally against entering government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over concerns that social justice issues would be cast aside and austerity measures would be implemented to pay back any pandemic debt.

Ms McHugh said: "I have left the Green Party. I doubt that’s a surprise to most people.

"The reasons I have left are obvious, I joined the greens with the hope of furthering the cause of climate justice. 

"The pfg that has been agreed on is a terrible document. The membership were told it contained certain things that it didn’t.

"This government, I believe (and I hope I’m wrong) will do massive damage to the idea of environmentalism by linking it with socially regressive policies. 

"Only by viscerally improving peoples lives will support for climate action be ensured.

"Our problems in housing, tax avoidance, healthcare, agriculture etc are inextricably linked with and reinforce environmental breakdown and because of this solutions must be mutual."

Ms McHugh had previously described the programme for government as "woolly management speak". 

She warned last year before the general election that she could leave the party if leaders join a coalition with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. 

Last month she signed a letter alongside four other Green Party members opposing the programme for government criticising, in particular, the impact of a carbon tax on rural constituencies. 

Ms McHugh’s departure continues a theme within the party of disillusioned young members who have questioned their loyalty after their party entering a coalition government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. 

This, amid with a series of bullying allegations have rocked the greens since the election in February.

Ms McHugh added: “I have seen how brilliant and brave people are bullied and silenced within parties that profess to be grounded in equality and democracy.” 

Leader Eamon Ryan admitted recently that the party had been inundated with complaints of bullying and the party were taking steps to rectify the issue.

Ms McHugh’s resignation comes after a number of public resignations from members including chair of the Queer Greens, the LGBTQ+ contingent of the party, Rob O’Sullivan also left.

Shortly after Ms McHugh announced her exit from the Green party, Beth O'Reilly, Commercial and Fundraising Officer, also announced her decision to leave. 

Ms O'Reilly criticised the programme for government and claimed the party did not support LGBTQ+ members enough.

Ms McHugh's departure comes ahead of today's Green Party leadership result. 

The winner is set to be announced this evening with incumbent Eamon Ryan facing a challenge from his deputy Catherine Martin.

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