THE DONEGAL branch of the Green Party has won a bid to host the party’s National Convention in Letterkenny during the summer. Up to 700 members will descend on the Cathedral Town. A detailed submission was sent to the party’s executive council and they unanimously agreed on Donegal for the 2020 event.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Chairman of Donegal Green Party, Michael White outlined how the party is building momentum in the county and will be putting forward a candidate for the General Election which will be decided at a selection convention on January 20.
“Winning this bid reflects the Green Party’s commitment to rural Ireland and especially our understanding of the issues faced by Donegal and the North West,” said Mr White.
“We are delighted, it is a big deal because there was a number of other areas bidding and most of them were close to Dublin. Last year the convention was held in the Law Society in Trinity College Dublin so it is prestigious to get this.”
The Greencastle resident said the convention will be a big boost for Letterkenny in terms of the influx of visitors which will bring business for local accommodation providers and restaurants. The Green party in Donegal has seen a growth in numbers in recent years with passionate members such as teenager Conal O’ Boyle bringing climate change to the fore.
Back in 2017 when Mr White joined the party there was just eight members which has now grown to 25. The party is already working towards their local election campaign in 2024 and have identified candidates for all seven Municipal Districts in the county.
Mr White said: “It was really frustrating not to have any local election candidates but that won’t happen again. We want to give the people of Donegal the opportunity to vote for the Green party.”
Party numbers increased during the European elections with a lot of interest in Saoirse McHugh’s campaign to become a Green MEP. Mr White also credits teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg for inspiring young people and disasters such as the bush fires in Australia as creating a bigger awareness about climate change.
“People are also fed up with issues locally such as illegal dumping and river pollution and the amount of plastic being generated,” he added.
While canvassing in Letterkenny and Inishowen during the European elections Mr White said he found people were genuinely concerned about climate change and said it was higher up on their agenda than he thought. One of the reasons he has become proactive on environmental issues is because of his two teenage sons as he is concerned for their futures. They are students in Coláiste Ailigh in Letterkenny and the promotion of the Irish language is something he is also passionate about. The delivery of all public services through Irish and support for Irish language primary and secondary schools is high on his agenda.
Transport in Donegal is another big issue which 17-year-old student Conal O’Boyle raised at last year’s convention when his motion, requesting that 20 per cent of a Green Party budget would go towards transport in Donegal, was approved.