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No need for Ryan to lose sleep over leadership as Green votes counted

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Green Party leader Eamon Ryan

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan

Eamon Ryan is widely expected to be confirmed tonight as leader of the Green Party for another term.

Backers are expecting him to prevail by at least a two-to-one margin over his rival, deputy leader Catherine Martin. Both are serving in the new Cabinet.

A sluggish return of votes - only two-thirds of ballots were returned by lunchtime on the closing date yesterday - is seen as signifying little appetite for a change of leader.

Despite a long lead-in, some 1,943 prepaid envelopes had been returned, representing a 66.22pc turnout, although the final percentage could rise slightly.

Lower

For the vote on the Programme for Government, ballots were issued to 1,991 members with 1,904 returned. The majority were sent back promptly for a turnout of more than 90pc.

"The return rate will be lower on the leadership election," a party spokeswoman said yesterday.

She added that members were asked to register for the Programme for Government vote, whereas all eligible members were sent a ballot for the leadership.

"If it's slow, it suggests there isn't a headlong charge to get rid of Eamon," said another party official.

Ms Martin is believed to have significant levels of support in Northern Ireland, which contributes 600 of the nearly 3,000 members of the all-island party.

Ballots

However, the early indications are being read as highly favourable to Mr Ryan - who was caught napping during a Dail vote last week - on all sides.

Eligible voters are those members in good standing who have completed a six-month probationary period on joining the party.

At the time of issuing ballots there were 2,336 eligible members in the Republic and 598 in the North - a 4:1 ratio.

Neither Mr Ryan nor Ms Martin have offered comment on the turnout, but one of her supporters admitted the signs were not good.

The count begins today, with an announcement expected at 7pm.

National co-ordinator Blaithin Gallagher will invite a concession speech from the runner-up, followed by the victor.