A small but vocal group of protestors demonstrated outside Athlone’s Radisson Hotel on Saturday as the Green Party conference took place inside.

Members of the Irish Rural Association and the Turfcutters of Ireland voiced their objection to the Government’s policies on farming, on energy generation, on turfcutting and rural transport. “The Government talks of joined-up thinking,” said spokesman Seamus Shannon. “That’s only beneficial if the individual ideas are credible and sensible. Joining up crap ideas lead to crap outcomes, and that’s what Eamon Ryan and the Green Party are delivering for rural Ireland,” he said.

Passers-by overwhelmingly were supportive, they said.

Meanwhile, inside the hall, Dublin-based Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon told the conference there were 300 attendees.

“When I became active in the Green Party a decade ago, there were only 300 members in the party,” he said.

It puts the scale of the protests in context. There may have only been a couple of dozen people protesting but Irish Rural Association and the Turfcutters, like the Green Party a decade ago, believe they are speaking for a large swathe of Irish society. Time will tell.