First Time Green – the new wave of climate voters

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May 27th, 2019

With over 90 per cent of the 949 seats declared as of this morning, the Green Party is on course for the biggest gains of all parties since 2014.

The party has shown a robust return in seats – almost 50 of its 82 candidates are elected so far – with its share of first preference votes up four per cent on five years ago.

So who are the new voters putting the Greens on course for their best ever election showing?

The Green News spoke with several #FirstTimeGreen voters as to why they gave the party their number one.

Fionnuala Curran

Fionnuala Curran (21), a final year theoretical physics student at UCD

I’m a first-time Green voter by default though as, at 21, this has been the first council and European election I’ve been eligible to vote in.

I voted Green because the Green Party give the issues of climate change and the destruction of the environment the prominence and urgency they deserve.

I have also consistently agreed with their stance on various other issues, including abortion and housing rights.

I’m hopeful that the Green Wave will result in an increased awareness of the climate emergency amongst every generation of Irish people, and that it might see Ireland become a global leader in switching to renewable energy sources and adopting green policies.

Derek Reilly

Derek Reilly (39), a sales executive based in Dublin

Since the last election I understand the importance of climate action. I am a former Fianna Fail party member but the old ways are not moving fast enough for me.

My partner and I have adopted a plant based diet, we are trying to live a vegan lifestyle, and we have sold our vehicle and use public transport or car sharing where possible.

I have a growing interest in the electrification of transport and finally, I’m fed up with the rental crisis in Dublin.

Eva Slevin (19), studies Geography and Politics in UCD and member of the UCD Young Greens

I was originally interested in the party because of their policies, and because they weren’t feeding into this dialogue of individual change that Fine Gael are promoting in terms of Climate Action.  

When I got involved last year I couldn’t have joined a more inclusive group of people.

Every candidate I met was genuine, passionate and intelligent, and I would have been happy to vote for any of them.

I’m 19, and I’m afraid for my future, the way society is structured doesn’t bode well for a future in which the earth can support our needs.

The Green Party is the only party who seems to really understand the scale of the problem and has the right ideas to deal with it.

Brian Hall

Brian Hall (38), a chemical processor from Dublin

Regarding a first Green vote, there are a number of reasons to vote for them, and a number of reasons to not vote for others! 

Fianna Fail’s record in my area of Fingal County Council reads like a who’s who of corruption going back decades, and Fine Gael can’t be given control of a Council when their candidates can’t control a swing.

I wouldn’t trust Sinn Fein with an empty pint glass never mind a full one, and I have no time for whatsoever for Labour who are too much in the pocket of unions.

The SocDems and Solidarity-People Before Profit have no appeal either as they’re too busy trashing the current TD’s to actually come up with any realistic solutions to any problems locally or nationally.

The carbon tax was bound to go up anyway, any fears of the Greens increasing carbon tax are unfounded – they will definitely be increased, but it will be at an EU level, so we’ll just have to comply. 

Ideally I’d love to see the introduction of another SSIA initiative so people could put money aside for big carbon taxes, gain the 25 per cent top-up at the end, and still be eligible for grants for home upgrades.  

The vast majority of homes outside cities have coal/kerosene/oil heating, and the Greens will be directly blamed for carbon tax increases which the nation will be left with no option but to comply with, or increase other taxes to pay the penalties. 

There’s definitely huge potential for the Greens at local and national level, but it’s a major issue trying to convince the rural vote to convert to wood chip pellet heating, or try get some company to build devices to convert winter barns of cow farts to usable methane for powering our farms.

Emily Hosford, a feminist and activist based in Dublin

I think this is the first time I actually gave the greens my number 1 vote, although I would have given them some preference before. I voted green this time because I really felt that I didn’t have another option.

I’m really worried about our quality of life in the very near future and our very survival as a species. My partner and I got married last year and now we we’re planning on starting a family.

But in the back of my mind I’m very concerned about the world that my children will be born into and what they’ll have to face in their lives.

Will my children actually be the last generation? We have a very short window to act on this climate emergency.

We need radical action on the climate breakdown and a clear, brave vision that leaves no-one behind. I hope this is what the greens will bring to local government and to the European parliament.

José Arufe Barker

José Arufe Barker (22), a senior PR executive in London

I voted green because it was the only party against Brexit that also wants to tackle climate change.

I hate the way the UK media recently portrayed the Extinction Rebellion protesters as ‘eco-warriors’ and suggesting the police should have used force against them.

I think the UK is so politically divided from Brexit and that has been a big driving force of green support here.

Neither of the main parties is standing for the 16 million that voted to remain and so I had no other choice but to vote for a party that represents my values and beliefs on climate change, social equality and remaining a member of the EU.

It’s good to see the green wave across Europe knowing the issue of climate change is finally top of the priorities of the electorate and we want MEPs to act across the continent.

I think there are unique reasons for each country that may be supporting the wave of green voters but ultimately the common issue is little action on saving our planet.

I recently went to Scandinavia and the cleanliness and accessibility to recycling were enviable. Hopefully, the UK will be able to take notes from these countries that seem to be making a green way of living the norm.

I hope the UK Government sees it’s time to call another general election from these results.

No one wants the Tories in – even Tory voters have had enough of them. It’s time for climate change to be our focus and shift wasted time and energy from Brexit.

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