Saoirse McHugh quits Greens saying party is 'toxic'

Saoirse McHugh quits Greens saying party is 'toxic'

Saoirse McHugh has left the Green Party, claiming she couldn't "stomach" being affiliated with it any longer. File Picture.

Former MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh says she left the Green Party due to concerns over the programme for government, and says the party is "toxic".

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

Ms McHugh said that 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.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Ms McHugh said she had been contemplating leaving for over a year.

"The decision to tweet this morning wasn't really well thought out," she said.

"I've composed so many tweets since the Seanad run, I've often felt like I should leave.

"The amount of times I've pulled up the new snazzy 'resign' button on the website, but I decided I'd leave today because if I left after Eamon gets re-elected tonight it'll look like I'm throwing a strop, which I'm not.

"It wasn't ever gonna be a good time to go, I just want to leave, but it's always going to be hard.

"It's toxic in there, since the locals, and really I should've left after the convention last year after I had people saying I should join another party for speaking my mind, even back then that was an issue.

"I would say there been a lot of members who have been made feel unwelcome for things they said," she adds.

"How a lot of this ends up being portrayed in media and Twitter lend itself to these flurries around the scandal of it, people want juicy gossip in parties and splits in parties.

"You ignore warning signs, it's like a bad relationship, you keep hoping it could be different and great.

"I don't know what it's like in other parties I'd imagine it's similar but I imagine other party structures provide for such conflict.

"The constitution of the Greens doesn't lend itself to that."

Saoirse McHugh: "I've often felt like I should leave." File Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Saoirse McHugh: "I've often felt like I should leave." File Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

She says she has no regrets about running for MEP where she garnered 51,000 first preference votes in last year's European elections.

"I don't regret running, but right at this moment - no, I would never run again.

"Sure everyone is already saying I don't believe in democracy, which I didn't actually say, so why would I run?" she laughs.

Ms McHugh says there is "not a hope" she would join another party in the future.

She added in her tweet thread this morning that she would not join the new splinter group Greens for Just Transition, within the Green Party as she couldn’t “stomach” being affiliated with the party any longer.

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.

The party are due to announce the winner of the leadership election between Mr Ryan and Catherine Martin at around 7pm on Thursday evening.

It’s understood the resignations were timed as to not appear that people were leaving due to the leadership result, which Mr Ryan is tipped to win.

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