Press release

Resignation speech of Eamon Ryan

19th June 2024
Eamon Ryan

I am here today to announce that I intend to step down as leader of the Green Party and that I will not be standing in the next General Election.

I have spent the last 30 years either running for or holding public office, as a councillor, TD and Government Minister. It has been an absolute privilege and I want to thank the electorate who have voted for me on eight different occasions over those years, giving me the opportunity to serve our city and country to the best of my ability.

I am stepping down to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders, confident in the strength and values I have seen built up in our party over all these years. Our Party will now elect a new leader to lead the party from here and our own local group will now select a candidate to run in Dublin Bay South.

I will continue as party leader and in my Ministerial roles until a new leader is appointed and look forward to fulfilling whatever role a new leader assigns me for the remaining term of this Government. 

I have a number of important measures coming to Cabinet in the coming weeks and we have critical legislation regarding Planning and development, the Just Transition Commission and Marine Protected areas which we still expect to be enacted in the lifetime of this Government.

We also have a fifth budget to deliver, which has to show the same characteristic of the previous budgets in providing the greatest support to those most in need in our society.

I am confident this Government can go the full term, despite this second change in Party leadership. Our coalition was formed with the most detailed Programme for Government, negotiated by the three parties and not just the leadership. Our focus should remain on providing affordable housing, health care reform and climate action in the coming months. There would have to be good reason to leave such important work undone.

It was an honour to lead our Parliamentary Party, who have shown great resilience and good humour in meeting all the challenges we have had to face together. I want to acknowledge all our Green Councillors, old and new, who are the heart of our party in local communities and thank every member of my staff, whose advice and help has been invaluable.

It was a pleasure to work with the civil servants in my two departments and across the Public Service. While we may have had our differences, our government has maintained a spirit of collaboration in making many difficult decisions.  A lot of the credit for that goes to our own green teams here in Government buildings, in the Oireachtas and in Suffolk Street, our party headquarters.

This Government has had a proud record and we have set the country on a course to a more sustainable and secure future. Social justice is integral to green politics. Investing in Public Transport and safe streets helps the disadvantaged the most. Relying on our own renewable energy keeps money in the country and creates good jobs that last. Paying to restore nature will help more marginal farming systems most of all. This is the best future for rural as well as urban Ireland. 

I look back over the last four years and am proud of what we have achieved.  

Reducing the loss of life during Covid. 

Introducing a strong climate law. 

Cutting public transport fares and starting an offshore and solar energy revolution.  

We have the highest level of retrofitting in any EU state meaning that every week 1,000 more households wake up in homes that are warmer, healthier and cheaper to heat.

We designed and delivered the energy credits which helped people in the cost-of-living crisis.

We are lowering speed limits and delivering the National Broadband plan. 

Our deposit refund scheme is working.

We have built out cost rental housing, recognised Palestine and been a champion on the world stage for climate justice for developing countries.

Only yesterday we helped rescue and approve the Nature Restoration Law in the EU.

I could go on. Even our harshest critics make the case about how much we are doing in turning the country Green.

One of my biggest regrets is that under my watch a narrative has taken hold that we are not concerned about rural Ireland, 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. 

Divisive politics will not work if we are to see the scale and speed of change that has to be achieved. Our approach is to start by listening to people, asking for help, rather than telling everyone what to do, admitting uncertainty in how the change will work best and speaking to the heart and not just the head because our motivation comes from a love of creation and our place within it. We seek benefits for every place and community in the transition we need to make.

Convincing people of that has not been easy because we have also been the subject of a relentless attack, particularly on social media. It seemed at times that we were subject to coordinated attacks in the comments section following any post we made. I decided to ignore the worst comments, even when it included vile statements about my own recently deceased father. The level of invective has only increased in the last year and poisons the well of public thinking about our agenda and not just our party. That is one of the reasons why it is so important that we cherish a strong, impartial and independent media and that we put the future funding in place so that people can trust that they are getting accurate information on what is happening in our world.

You could despair about the future of our democracy if you were to live just in that algorithm driven and polarising online world. However, I am hopeful as to what is going to come next. I have spent the last few days contacting every one of the 132 candidates that ran for us in the local and European elections, getting feedback on how their campaigns went. I am inspired by their continued determination to serve the public and their feedback that the majority of discussions at the doors was both very engaging and very civic minded. In leaving my leadership role I will be asking a new generation of people to take up this honourable public role by joining our party and joining us in meeting the public when the next election comes. 

I will continue to work on climate action but in a different way. I cannot continue to work the long hours that being a public representative involves, which is why I am not standing again. I have parenting commitments at home which I also want to serve.  We have a son with special needs who also requires my attention.  My wife Victoria White has been my greatest support and inspiration. I want to also thank all my family and friends who have been at my side at all times.

I will do everything I can to support the future success of our party, adhering to our founding principles: to address the ecological crisis in everything we do; to insure social justice comes with this transition; to engage in peaceful politics, respecting everyone and to work within our democratic constitutional system and the rule of law, trusting the people to make the right decision in the end.

It was an honour to work in the office in front of me now, looking across at the offices of the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, the Ministry of Finance, the Attorney General and the Secretary General of the Department of Taoiseach. It was a privilege to work with the various office holders inside those offices and with my Cabinet colleagues. I would like to thank them for the courtesy they and the opposition leaders in our Oireachtas have shown me over the last four years. 

We are lucky to be able to serve within the institutions of our democratic Republic. I look forward to supporting our new party leader, seeing out our current mandate and then returning to the people looking to them for direction on what comes next.

I look forward to it all.

Share on