The Green Party’s youth wing has been hit by a wave of significant resignations, including the leader of the Trinity College Young Greens, Julie Smirnova.
Smirnova publicly announced her decision to step down on her Twitter account on the 26th of October because “the Party’s actions have proven that it is no longer a vehicle for climate justice, or the policy change needed to protect victims of the housing crisis & institutional abuse.”
Smirnova told The College View that the Green Party’s actions in government were clashing with the policies that had initially drawn members to the Young Greens.
“The rejection of amendments to the Residential Tenancies & Valuation Bill, the rushed Agricultural Appeals Bill, the weak Climate Action Bill… left those of us who campaigned for change feeling let down,” she said.
Other Green Party members have stepped away from their roles including Cork City Councillor Lorna Bogue, Leader of the Queer Greens Tiernan Mason and Young Greens Chairperson Tara Gilsenan.
Gilsenan and Mason issued a joint statement announcing their resignations on Twitter, citing harassment and bullying in the party, and predicting that “history will not be kind to the Green Party as it stands, especially if you continue to drive away the people who rebuilt the party after you burned it down the last time.”
Gilsenan, a Trinity College student that helped to re-establish the college’s branch of the Young Greens in 2019, stood in solidarity with Smirnova
She said “I believe that she did the right thing, definitely. She stuck to her morals.”
“I started to become disillusioned when the Greens went into negotiations with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. The Young Greens made our distaste for those parties known. The Young Greens voted heavily against it but the party voted heavily for it, so at that moment I was like ‘what have we done?” Gilsenan told The College View.
“A lot of us stuck around because Grace O Sullivan, the MEP, said we should oppose from within and we took that to heart, but it’s clear everything we say is going completely unheeded,” she added.
The Young Greens have since suspended all political campaigning and lobbying until January in reaction to declining membership numbers and to allow members to “reflect and recuperate.”
The statement, which was emailed to all members and posted on the group’s Twitter account on the 2nd of November, disclosed that “the past five months of government have had a major impact on our membership numbers and negatively affected the drive and passion of volunteers.”
Gilsenan described it as “unprecedented” but welcomed the move from her former party associates, saying that “it shows me that the Young Greens are tired of being ignored.”
Many of the officials leaving the Green Party cited their party’s support of the controversial Mother and Baby Homes Bill as the reason for their resignation.
The legislation passed in the Dail by 12 votes, aided by 11 votes from the Green Party, and will allow information relating to mother and baby homes to be sealed for 30 years.
Smirnova described the legislation recently signed by President Michael D. Higgins as “the final nail in the coffin for me,” whereas Gilsenan was “shocked by just how badly the Green Party had dealt with it.”
Jamie Mc Carron
Image credit: Wikimedia