A RELATIVELY unknown Green Party councillor, Caroline Conroy, is set to become lord mayor of Dublin as a result of the deal struck with the Greens’ 10 Dublin city councillors and other parties, Fianna Fáil (11), Labour (8) and the Social Democrats (5) in 2019.
So who is Cllr Caroline Conroy? Unlike most Dublin Green councillors who polled extremely well in the more rarefied areas of Dublin, Caroline took her seat on the 14th count in Ballymun-Finglas in 2019. Then, the deal with the other parties was that the Greens would get two shots at the mayoralty; FF would get two; and Labour one in the five-year term of the council. The well-known Green councillor, Hazel Chu, got the first year’s term and from July of this year Conroy will be in the role.
Despite her proletarian base Conroy is not part of the left opposition to Eamon Ryan’s leadership and she was, in fact, a strong supporter of the party leader during and after his leadership contest with Catherine Martin in 2020. This is perhaps just as well, from the point of view of Caroline’s domestic harmony, given that she is married to one, Dónall Geoghegan, handler extraordinaire and the Green Party’s joint chief of staff. Dónall is also Ryan’s best buddy in politics and is more influential than any of the Green ministers or the more conservative, pro-Ryan personalities in the party.
Ryan is hardly French king Louis XIII in disguise but his C/S, Geoghegan’s tweets are accompanied with a cartoon image of Cardinal Richelieu, the French chief minister who created the early state of France. Is this really how Dónall sees himself? Many Green activists certainly do.
The Geoghegan-Conroys will not want for mayoral style and luxury – French or otherwise – when they move into the mayor’s Dawson Street residence. Dónall is on a salary of €139,628, a decline from the more generous €168,000 he enjoyed when he became programme manager to Green Party leader John Gormley, when the Greens propped up Bertie Ahern’s FF-led government.
Geoghegan is an eclectic political gun for hire and has never been a Green Party member. Following his stint with Gormley, Geoghegan worked for presidential candidate, Seán Gallagher, in 2011 who described himself as an Independent but who was widely regarded as an unofficial FF candidate.
The versatile Geoghegan then worked as a political adviser for another ‘independent’ politician, Katherine ‘Zapper’ Zappone (who was more Blueshirt than independent) as well as independent Seán Canney in Enda Kenny’s FG-led government. It was his service to Zapper that explains Geoghegan’s attendance at the Merrion Hotel last year in that little soirée that proved so embarrassing to Fine Gael figures like Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar.
Geoghegan it was who advised Ryan to switch constituencies from Dublin Rathdown (where he lost his seat in 2011) to Dublin Bay South, a move that saved Ryan’s political career. Geoghegan is at Ryan’s side in virtually every meeting or occasion of any consequence and does not brook any interference or obstruction from awkward party members such as deputy leader Martin or other lefties in the party. The joint C/S appears to regard some of the more truculent party members in the same way that the cardinal viewed dissident nobles in France.