Saorise McHugh leaves the Green Party saying decision will not surprise “most people”

23 July 2020

Former Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh has left the Green Party today, a move she doubts is “a surprise to most people”. 

In a Twitter thread posted on Thursday morning, Ms McHugh made the announcement and said her reasons for doing so “are obvious”. 

She referred to the Programme for Government between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party as a “terrible document” and said, “this government, I believe (and I hope I’m wrong) will do massive damage to the idea of environmentalism by linking it with socially regressive policies”. 

The only way to guarantee support for climate action, Ms McHugh stressed, is by “viscerally improving people’s lives”. 

“Our problems in housing, tax avoidance, healthcare, agriculture etc are inextricably linked with and reinforce environmental breakdown and because of this solutions must be mutual”, she wrote. 

Moving towards a “just and free” society, according to Ms McHugh, does not lie in the hands of “electoral politics”. 

“I have seen how brilliant and brave people are bullied and silenced within parties that profess to be grounded in equality and democracy. I’ve seen how much effort and energy gets taken up by elections and internal party struggles”, the thread goes on to say. 

She concluded by reiterating her commitment to climate justice, but that for her, The Green Party, “no longer provides a vehicle to do that”.

“Absolutely no appetite” for the type of change needed 

Ms McHugh has been a longstanding opponent to a coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, telling The Green News last year that they had “absolutely no appetite” for the type of change needed in the country. 

“We’d be selling out for a couple of bike lanes and a couple of Ministerial roles”, she said at the 2019 Green Party Convention. 

“And if we go in and get destroyed like how we were 10 years ago now or less, then once again we set back the political wing of the environmental movement another 10 years”, she continued.   

People voted for the Green Party in the 2019 local elections according to Ms McHugh, “they wanted something different” and that “if they wanted Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael again, they would have voted for them again”. 

Ms McHugh supported a motion to rule out a coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael at last year’s convention put forward by Green Party Cork Councillor Lorna Bogue, who said that the two parties would stand in the way of progressive measures. 

In his reply to the motion, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said at the time that one of the ways the party could introduce the aforementioned progressive measures is “by getting into government”. 

“By ruling people out I think we’ll be ruling ourselves out possibly, but worse than that, we’ll be stepping away from the inclusive politics we need,” he said at the Convention.