The Green Party gaining a reputation as being unconcerned about rural Ireland is one of Eamon Ryan’s greatest regrets as he announced he will step down as the party’s leader.

In his resignation speech this Tuesday 18 June, Minister Ryan added that he does not believe this to be true.

“One of my biggest regrets is that under my watch a narrative has taken hold that we are not concerned about rural Ireland, that our solutions are costing people and we are not connected to the man and woman on the street.

“None of that do I believe to be true,” he said.

Responding to questions, Minister Ryan said both himself and the Green Party are connected to rural Ireland.

“Most of my working life before politics was spent in rural Ireland. I ran a tourism business. I know every highway and byway of north, south, east and west, really.

“Even since being in office, if you take the last 13 years as leader of the Green Party, I spent most of my time out around the country, which I loved.

“We are absolutely connected to rural Ireland and see this as a transition for rural Ireland, for its prosperity and its security,” he added.

Nature Restoration Law

Minister Ryan listed the Nature Restoration Law among his most notable achievements as party leader.

“Only yesterday we helped rescue and approve the Nature Restoration Law in Europe,” he said.

He added that he thinks the law will be positive for farmers on marginal land.

“Paying to restore nature will help marginal farming systems, most of all. This is the best for rural, as well as urban, Ireland,” he said.

Next general election

The Minister for the Environment said he will not stand in the next general election.

He said he no longer has the time needed for public office and that he needs to focus on family commitments.

The Green Party’s recent election performance, where they lost over half of their council seats and its single MEP seat, Minister Ryan said was not a factor in his decision to resign as party leader.

Minister Ryan said he took the decision to step down as party leader at this time some months ago and his closest colleagues have known since then.

He will continue as party leader until his successor is appointed and added that he will take whatever role the next leader gives him.

On when the next general election might be, Ryan said he believes the Government can go the full term [expected to be March 2025].

Next leader

If there is a leadership challenge, the Green Party operates a one vote per member system, unlike some other parties where a leadership vote is weighted towards parliamentary members.

In July 2020, Ryan defeated Catherine Martin in a leadership vote by 994 votes to 946 votes. Ryan has been leader of the party since 2011.

He has been a TD for Dublin Bay South since 2016 and previously from 2002 to 2011.

He served as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources from 2007 to 2011, when the Green Party was in a government coalition with Fianna Fáil.