Assembly Election

Green Party is ‘main alternative to broken five-party Executive system', Claire Bailey says

Green Party Northern Ireland leader Clare Bailey addresses her party's manifesto launch for the Assembly election at the Belfast Barge attraction on the river Lagan
Rebecca Black, PA

The Green Party is the “main alternative to the broken five-party Executive system” at Stormont, Clare Bailey has said.

Setting out her party’s stall for the Assembly election, the Green Party leader said the last Executive “showed time and time again they cannot deliver the solutions needed”.

The last Executive effectively collapsed following the resignation of DUP First Minister Paul Givan as part of his party’s protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Ms Bailey said her party, which had two MLAs in the last mandate, is the largest opposition party, and “represents the main alternative to the broken five-party Executive system”.

“In this election campaign we have seen traditional parties continue to try and shape the debate along the usual lines of division and mistrust,” she told her party’s manifesto launch event in Belfast on Thursday morning.

Ms Bailey described a housing crisis, cost-of-living crisis, waiting list crisis and mental health crisis as “badly affecting people’s lives”, while the climate crisis is “becoming more and more obvious”.

“This will require system change because the system that has created the problems is not the system that can solve the problems and this is where our politics needs to be focused,” she said, describing it as “possible if the political will is there to do so”.

She said that in the five years since the last Assembly election, the institutions have functioned for just two of them.

“A political system which allows constant collapse, constant stalemate to arise is clearly a system long overdue reform,” she said.

“It’s time to remove community designation from the Assembly and move forward from the polarised politics of the past.

“It’s time to put an end to manufactured crises, it’s time to have politics that tackles the real issues facing everyday lives.”

Ms Bailey also called for an increase to the minimum wage, the introduction of rent controls, and the building of warm and affordable social housing.

The party’s manifesto includes calls for increased transparency around political donations, an independent environmental protection agency and a ban on the hunting of wild animals with dogs, expansion of the public transport system and investment in renewable energy.

The Green Party launched its manifesto for the Stormont Assembly election on the Belfast Barge visitor attraction on the River Lagan.

Ms Bailey thanked her party’s candidates for stepping up, acknowledging that public life can be a “daunting prospect”.

The Green Party is running candidates in all 18 constituencies, with a 50/50 gender balance.

At the last Assembly election in 2017, it won two seats with Ms Bailey in South Belfast and former leader Steven Agnew in North Down.

Rachel Woods was co-opted to replace Mr Agnew in 2019, and is running again to retake the seat.

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Assembly Election