Northern Ireland news

Greens facing 'worst case scenario' as both party assembly seats remained at risk last night

Green leader Clare Bailey. Picture by Hugh Russell
Paul Ainsworth

THE Green Party was facing the possibility of losing both its assembly seats last night as counting continued for South Belfast and North Down.

The Alliance surge appears to have eaten into the first preference votes for both Clare Bailey, the Green's leader since 2018, and Rachel Woods, who replaced former party leader Steven Agnew as their North Down MLA that same year.

In South Belfast, where Clare Bailey claimed 9.9 per cent of first preference votes back in 2017, amounting to 4,247 ballots topped, her share this time round is 8.6 per cent, with 4,058 first preferences.

That result left her facing a battle for a last seat in the constituency, which this year saw Alliance's Kate Nicholl compete at the tail end of her term as a popular Lord Mayor of Belfast.

In North Down, an indication that Alliance could clinch two seats in the form of Andrew Muir and Connie Egan meant an inevitable squeeze on Rachel Woods, who got 2,734 first preferences, amounting to a 6.5 per cent vote share.

As the counting continued last night following independent candidate Alex Easton taking the first seat for the constituency, Ms Woods remained positive despite the possibility that she will not be returning to Stormont.

In a tweet as North Down ballots were counted for the second round, she referred to legislation brought by her party, including Clare Bailey's private members' bill passed earlier this year to create 'safe spaces' outside abortion clinics by banning protesters within an exclusion zone.

She tweeted: "Being your MLA for 2 years and the Green Party NI candidate in this election has been the biggest privilege, you have no idea. We accomplished so much and actually made law."

Ms Bailey said in a post that she was "unbelievably proud" of her colleague, and added of Ms Woods: "In the 2 short years we had this woman has left a legacy that will save lives. Now that's hard to beat."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news