From left: Dan Boyle, Grace O’Sullivan MEP and Green Part Leader Eamon Ryan
I would be lying if I said I saw it coming. I was confident there would be an upward trajectory in the number of votes we would win, and with that the prospect of gaining some additional seats.
The mood at the doors was relaxed and friendly. Negative responses were more about indifference than anger.
As a party we had approached these elections with a better sense of strategic purpose and organisational focus. With each election we distance ourselves further from the enthusiastic amateurism that use to characterise Green election campaigns.
The mood music was helpful. The concentration on the words of the now totemic figures of Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough, were being communicated to more people through a less sneering media.
The results astounded us as much as anyone.
More than 200,000 Green votes were won across the island of Ireland in the European elections. 11.4% of the Euro vote in the Republic, nearly 50% higher than the previous Green peak of 7.9% from 1994.
Two MEPs elected and almost a clean sweep of three, after the phenomenal campaign of Saoirse McHugh.
The average vote of Green local election candidates was in double digit percentages. The final tally of local election seats more than quadrupled the previously held number of seats the party held.
This, in turn, was over 30 more local authority seats than the previous peak achieved (18 seats in 2004). The biggest increase in seats of any Irish political party, almost by a factor of two, in 2019.
Was it a wave? Was it a ripple? Was it a rip tide? Whatever force of current it was, it represented the greatest Green political advance in the 37 year of the party in Ireland.
There have been other Green breakthroughs but never of this scale. We need to celebrate the victory while being wary of the expectation it has created.
We should take credit for the better organisation and stronger effort. We should also give a nod towards more favourable media coverage.
If we are totally honest with ourselves, we need to admit that there is also a touch of political favour of the day about the recent election.
The challenge for The Greens is to consolidate these advances. We are now being set up to fail, communists to those on the right; sellouts to those on the left.
We need to work even harder now to justify the renewed trust that has been placed in us.
Part of this consolidation should be to recognise that the right/left axis is no longer relevant to modern democratic policies.
The real cleavage is between progressives and reactionaries. Reactionaries exist as much on the traditional left as they do on the traditional right.
The political tides will continue to ebb and flow, but they will do so on a shifting platform of ideas and policies, rather than set, ingrained traditional political philosophies.
The present is Green. The future may not be. It won’t be if we continue to practice politics as usual.
The problems we face as a planet are so huge that we need to work with whoever, however, to achieve the desired results.
The Greens being different can make a difference. But only if we can make it different. This time.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and serves as a Green Party councillor on Cork City Council. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle