Government must act fast to answer green wave, Taoiseach
May 25th, 2019
The Taoiseach has said that the Government needs to act fast on climate following the “very clear message” from the electorate as the Green Party makes significant gains in the local elections.
Leo Varadkar said this evening that policy will need to change across the board from a local to national level but that the “public are up for that” in order to tackle climate change.
“They want us to act faster and we’ve got that message,” he said from the Citywest count centre as incoming tallies confirm the findings of yesterday’s exit poll that indicated a sharp rise in support for the Greens.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s vote appears to have held up while Sinn Féin and Labour seem likely to see their vote decrease, according to the exit poll.
Overall, the Greens looks set to be the big winners in the local elections, as the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil vote looks set to stagnant and Sinn Féin and Labour likely to see their vote down from the last election.
The Green Party is not just winning seats, but also recording large voting numbers. Hazel Chu, the first Green elected today, comfortably was comfortably elected in the Southside Pembroke ward.
A first-time candidate, Ms Chu secured just over 4,000 first preference votes, almost double the required quota in the Dublin ward.
With a little over 33 per cent of the vote, she becomes Ireland’s first ever Irish-born public representative of Chinese heritage.
Claire Byrne was re-elected as a councillor for the Pembroke-South Dock area in the capital, also with near double the quota set for the ward.
Ms Chu’s partner Cllr Patrick Costello has also been elected after topping the poll in the adjacent ward of Kimmage-Rathmines.
Michael Pidgeon also topped the poll in the Dublin South West Inner City, with Una Power set to top to poll in Killiney-Shankill and take in almost 17 per cent of the vote. Cllr Francis Duffy has also secured 16 per cent of votes in South Dublin County Council.
Outside of the capital, Vincent Martin, the brother of Green Deputy Catherine Martin, has topped the poll in Naas, Co Kildare.
Final tally figures for Limerick City North indicate that the Greens will secure their first ever seat in the county, with first-time candidate Brian Leddin set to secure almost 12 per cent of the vote.
Several candidates in Cork, including Lorna Bogue and Dan Boyle, also look set to be elected based on early tally results.
Councillor Roderic O’Gorman, who is expected to gain a seat in Dublin West, told RTE earlier today that the party expects to win at least 30 of the 82 seats it is contesting.
‘Turned the green wave’
Speaking to The Green News this evening, the Greens leader Eamon Ryan said that today’s result is a reflection of the “palpable increase in environmental consciousness” growing across Ireland.
“We benefitted from that and I think we were well organised and we had good people running who worked hard,” he said, particularly pleased with the level of surplus votes achieved in many counts.
The last week really “turned the green wave”, Mr Ryan said, with MEP hopeful Saoirse McHugh’s stand-out performance on RTE’s Prime Time last week giving the Greens “a boost and people responded”.
“I think no one knew that Saoirse was going to come like a storm in the last week. I had a sense because I know as soon as she got on television she would really impress.”
He also reserved praise for the school strikes movement that had a “really profound effect in terms of the older generation responding to them”.
If the predictions of the RED C poll hold firm then Councillor Ciaran Cuffe looks set to top the poll in Dublin for the European Elections for almost a quarter of the vote.
This would be a major departure from previous polls that also placed his party colleagues Grace O’Sullivan and Saoirse McHugh well out of contention in the South and Midlands-North-West races.
Both, however, are in contention for a seat in their constituencies according to the exit poll results even when the four per cent margin of error is accounted for.
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