Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman was appointed leader of the Green Party on Monday after winning a vote of party members by 984 votes to 912.

Minister of State Pippa Hackett lost out narrowly in the race to replace Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan as leader.

Ryan had sat at the party’s helm since 2011 but is to step aside from his Dáil seat at the next general election after seat losses in June’s local and European elections.

O’Gorman claimed to be “very realistic about the challenges ahead” in his victory speech, saying that “those challenges were demonstrated very clearly in the recent elections”.

Bringing forward policies

“Our core vote remains strong, but, if as a party, we decide we are just going to rely on our core, we will lose seats,” he said.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, O’Gorman maintained that a Dublin-based leader of the Green Party is not a barrier to getting votes in rural constituencies.

“I think farmers are not looking at the address of our party leader, I think they are looking at the policies, they are looking to see if their proposals here have a meaningful impact on my life, on my farm, on my business,” he commented.

“I will be very clear, we need to be bringing forward policies that increase the range of income streams for farmers, we have to be able to reward good practice where it takes place, we have to recognise that there are changes coming [to] European regulations.”

Speaking after the result was announced, Minister Hackett stated that she hopes the publicity around her bid for party leadership has changed rural dwellers’ views of what the Greens stand for.

She told the Irish Farmers Journal that the party will look to “make life easier” for farmers if returned to Government and to “build upon” initiatives introduced in this term, such as supports for clover and organic farming.

“I believe in a Green Party that strives to be relevant and relatable to people in their everyday lives and that recognises, if we want to make a commitment to certain things differently, we have to make it easy and we have to make it affordable,” she said to party members.