Clare Bailey insists no bad feeling behind decision to quit as Green deputy leader

Clare Bailey is stepping down as Green deputy leader. Picture by Hugh Russell

GREEN MLA Clare Bailey has dismissed speculation that a party rift prompted her decision to quit as deputy leader.

The South Belfast representative, who is one of two Green assembly members, has held the role for three years but said she wishes to give another person the opportunity to develop in the position.

She told The Irish News that it was "time to pass the title on to somebody else".

And she insisted there was no internal bad feeling behind the decision and that she would remain an MLA and party member.

"Everybody's still friends," she said.

Her successor will be named at the party's conference on September 30. Contenders for the post include Co Fermanagh activist Tanya Jones and Belfast councillor Georgina Milne.

In 2016, Ms Bailey became the party's second MLA after she was elected to represent South Belfast. She held her seat in the 2017 Stormont election.

She has been one of the main advocates for the party adopting a pro-choice stance on abortion, as well as the re-establishment of the party's LGBT group Queer Greens.

"The time is right for me to step aside and allow another person to develop the role of deputy leader," Ms Bailey said in a statement.

"It's also right that another person gets the opportunity to develop themselves through the role."

She said she was busy representing South Belfast and would be focussing her efforts on "doing my very best for the people of the area".

Green leader Steven Agnew thanked his departing deputy, saying she had made a "wonderful contribution".

“Clare has brought energy, drive and dedication to her role," he said.

"As deputy leader, Clare built a strong South Belfast base, winning an assembly seat in May 2016 and retaining it in March when many said she wouldn't."

He said he would continue to work closely with Ms Bailey.

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