Aoife Moore: Greens risk being sunk by two unforeseen icebergs

Climate Bill and the Mother and Baby Homes legislation threaten to take Green Party down
Aoife Moore: Greens risk being sunk by two unforeseen icebergs

Green party leader Eamon Ryan. 'Eamon's been completely missing,' is as common a refrain from his own TDs now as it was in the programme for government negotiations.

The Green Party saw a flurry of resignations over the weekend, passionate campaigners, mostly young, both publicly and privately left the party over what has been one of the most emotional weeks in Irish politics.

Though the Green ship has been slowly leaking members since entering government, two icebergs, in the form of the Climate Bill and the Mother and Baby Homes legislation, threaten to take the whole ship down.

The chair of the young Greens, recently profiled by the Phoenix Magazine, now ironically described as the future of the party, resigned on Friday, the chair of the Queer Greens also hung up their hat (there have only been two chairs of the Queer Greens, both have left the party).

In an unsurprising development to anyone who has studied the Green Party in action in the last year, Cork councillor Lorna Bogue has also resigned. Ms Bogue had been a thorn in the side of party HQ for a while, young, dynamic and vocal about her opposition to the direction of the party.

She had often spoken about how if you're a "nice girl" in the party, you can go far, which is why she says, that she and those like her, including former MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh didn't.

However, it's not only the public faces who have had enough. Passionate backroom staff, policy chairs and regular members have resigned en masse and the reaction from some within the party betrays how they view those who disagree with their beliefs.

Whatsapp Groups have long been the downfall of the Green Party, these groups are often the site of rows and what many members called "toxicity" within the party.

Screenshots seen by the Irish Examiner, show a beleaguered party chair, Hazel Chu attempting to force some form of civility onto her fellow members.

Hazel Chu. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Hazel Chu. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

"Can I ask that people be kind in their comments," she wrote.

"I've heard some individuals saying 'we have record numbers, what's a few drop-offs' or 'they weren't a team player'

"Whether someone agrees with someone or not there is zero reason to be disrespectful.

"We need to question why someone is leaving and it's not something to be celebrated."

Politically naive

As Ireland's political landscape becomes more splintered, and the notion of a majority government a distant memory, the fact any party would celebrate losing members is stark and politically naive.

This political naivety would only be acceptable had the Green Party not mirrored this exact same downfall their last time in government and appear to have wiped any memory of the 2011 election clean from their minds. The people who went door to door to apologise for the sins of those in the party who came before them are now being pushed out to much applause from those who cannot see they're celebrating their own party's demise for the second time in a decade.

Amid the political naivety, political ignorance is causing another raft of problems. The Mother and Baby Homes Bill which has dominated Irish politics for weeks, has very little to do with the Green Party, but you'd never know it.

Despite having more special advisers than the Taoiseach, not one it appears mentioned to Eamon Ryan that his party would be damaged by the sight of Minister Roderic O'Gorman at the helm of one of the most contentious bills in modern Irish politics.

"Eamon's been completely missing," is as common a refrain from his own TDs now as it was in the Programme for Government negotiations.

Many Green members sympathise with Mr O'Gorman, who they often remark is a very good person and a smart man, but cannot comprehend the party leaving their man out in the cold with only Fianna Fáil senators to come to his rescue.

It's early days for this calamitous government and although it was often touted that the Green 'mudguard' would be back in play to protect the senior hurlers, it appears the most detrimental blow to the Green Party has already been struck and their remaining members appear to be celebrating.

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