Green Party launch Zero Waste manifesto

Green Party ae16 launchEven without the election posters sitting against the wall, the gentle gurgling of a baby in the audience and the bikes chained to the railings outside the hotel are tell tale signs that this is the Green Party manifesto (PDF) launch.

Their theme is Zero Waste.

We hate waste, wherever it is found, and pledge to bring about an end to the waste of money, time and opportunities at Stormont. By taking a Zero Waste approach to our economy, society and environment, we can make Northern Ireland a better place for us all to live.

Green Party ae16 launch Ross Steven ClareIt’s clear from the faces at the top table and the photos in the printed manifesto that despite the full slate of 18 gender balanced candidates, Belfast South (deputy leader Clare Bailey) and Belfast East (Ross Brown) are the best chances for adding to Steven Agnew’s electoral success.

Asked about former Green Party leader Brian Wilson standing as an independent candidate in North Down, Steven Agnew responded:

I owe a lot to Brian … and I’ve sought to continue the good work he did as a Green MLA. I’m confident I can retain my seat in North Down. If he does get elected, it will not be at my expense.

Large print version of manifesto

Large print version of manifesto

The manifesto reminds voters about Green Party achievements during the last Assembly term: the Children’s Services Cooperation Act, exposing “the systemic failure of our planning system that sees unauthorised dredging in Lough Neagh, illegal dumps such as Mobuoy flourishing and oil drilling in Woodburn”.

The manifesto applies ‘Green’ thinking to a range of issues. Like many (most) manifestos, costings are not given. While no one expects to see Green Party MLAs sitting around the NI Executive table in May 2016, there are pointers to some of the private members bills they may seek to introduce if they are amongst the 108 candidates elected to Stormont in two week’s time.

In summary:

The Green Party want to see a fully integrated education system – “school should be about sharing experiences, not just buildings” – as well as increased investment in early years; flexible starting age for primary school; free (and nutritious) school meals for every child in P1-P3; community-centred campuses; and the development of GCSE and A-Levels in sign-language.

The health service “should start with keeping people healthy, beginning with exercise, a good diet and a healthy lifestyle” [Ed – bloggers beware!] and be patient-focussed rather than leaving people “languishing on waiting lists”. The party oppose privatisation of the health service; would retain free prescriptions (but introduce a voluntary payment scheme for those who wish to contribute to the cost); increase physical education at early age in schools; back calls for dedicated international mental health centre in NI; introduce legislation to support mothers who wish to breastfeed; extend the 1967 Abortion Act to NI; and support dignity in dying.

On justice the party defends the UK Human Rights Act; would raise the age of criminal responsibility; would initiate reform of libel laws; expand community policing; and ensure a greater focus on tackling domestic and sexual violence and supporting victims.

The Green party want a better connection made between investment in arts and the contribution it makes to the economy through job creation and leisure. They would develop ‘art contract clauses’ similar to ‘community benefit clauses’ for multi-million pound film and screen projects in NI.

On equality, they will bring forward legislation for equal marriage; end the blood man for men who have sex with men; update the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to allow self-declaration by transgender and non-binary people; implement the measures in the Racial Equality Strategy; and encourage more men to avail of parental leave.

Green Party ae16 Zero Waste popupAround democratic structures the Green Party want to remove community designation in the Assembly and replace it with two thirds majority decision making. They want all political donations over £500 to be made public. Parties should be required to stand a minimum of one third female candidates in Assembly elections with a reduction in Financial Assistance to Political Parties (FAPP) for those who fail to do so. The voting age would be reduced to 16.

Sustainability is placed at the centre of their planning policies. They oppose further out of town retail in favour of town centre approach; support minimum sustainable building standards for new homes; encourage energy conservation and use of renewables in domestic and commercial planning policy; and seek an integrated flood prevention and mitigation strategy.

The party want to see 2,000 units of energy efficient social housing built a year to meet housing need and tackle homelessness. They would abolish the priority need category for homeless applicants so that every homeless person can seek help.

Around transport, the party want to see spending rebalanced towards public transport and ‘active travel’. Greenways should be expanded to encourage cycling, spending increased on cycle infrastructure throughout NI to the value of £25 per person; expand public transport in rural areas; and a default 20mph speed limit in residential areas and near schools.

The party would introduce an independent Environmental Protection Agency; set a 70%+ household recycling and composting target by 2025; introduce deposit schemes for bottles, tins and tyres; extend the plastic bag levy to other packaging; promote retention of hedgerows; and back the creation of national parks in NI.

On energy, the Green Party would bring forward a Climate Change Bill and create a world class renewable energy industry (creating jobs and exports). The party still advocate the full implementation of the Green New Deal home energy efficiency scheme (promising creation of 15,00 jobs) as well for a “properly calculated living wage”. They oppose the reduction in Corporation Tax, and seek more accessible and affordable childcare provision to suit all working patterns.

Disclaimer: I cycled to the launch … having parked by car on the Lisburn Road …

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  • Katyusha

    The only way there will be “an end to the waste of money, time and opportunities at Stormont” is if Stormont ceases to exist.

  • Msiegnaro

    Return Direct Rule?

  • Katyusha

    Would save us 108 MLAs doing little-to-absolutely-nothing.

  • Ernekid

    Clare Bailey didn’t do too badly in 2015 with over 2K votes in South Belfast. Does she have much of a chance of getting near a quota this time? I’m seriously considering giving her a first preference. I honestly think we need more alternative voices in the Assembly chamber. Stephen Agnew has done some excellent work in the past few years.

  • chrisjones2

    Electonic only or printed on ‘recyclable’ tissue paper?

  • chrisjones2

    Stormont exists TO waste time money and opportunity

  • 51mattr

    I know a lot people who voted tactically for the SDLP to keep either the DUP or SF from gaining ground in 2015. Those votes will return to Clare with STV. She’s in with a good shot.

  • Graham Parsons

    Hopefully the abortion fiasco will drive pro-choice voters to the Greens in South and East Belfast.

  • Granni Trixie

    Or away.

  • chrisjones2

    Probably all of them …and was each one not a better waste of it

  • Gaygael

    I’m biased.

    If you do give Clare your first preference and she is unsuccessful, when eliminated, your vote will transfer in full to your second candidate.

    Check the bookies odds. They keep shortening. She is in the race.

  • Gaygael

    Why turn away?

  • Sherdy

    How many hard copies of the manifesto (large print or normal) have been produced?
    However many, that sounds like serious waste to me – surely on-line manifestoes would be less so!

  • AMORR86

    Sorry to burst the bubble here but Clare won’t feature in the later counts. Its not about vote numbers it’s about vote share. With a showing circa 2k in 2015 being between 7-8% share it will take the second alliance candidate to be eliminated before clare could get anywhere near 6th seat. The first alliance candidate will likely be elected and the surplus mostly gone to the second alliance candidate bringing them above clare – if they are both still in the count that is.

    Ross has even less of a chance with three alliance candidates including one who will lopsided the ticket and transfer worth votes to her running mates.

    In short….. Not enough votes.

  • Korhomme

    Encouraging so see something approaching ‘normal’ politics in NI.

  • Graham Parsons

    With Anna Lo not standing there are loads of alliance votes now up for grabs. SDLP count will fall as well.

  • AMORR86

    In 2015 Anna Lo didn’t stand. Although the GP vote share increased it was still less than 6%.

    The SDLP vote would have to decrease significantly in one of their strongest constituencies and uniformly shift to GP, which is unlikely. Even if it happened it still would not be enough to get Clare beyond the second alliance after transfers.

  • Graham Parsons

    Talking about the last assembly election in 2011 not 2015.

  • Cavehill

    Clare’s letter about criminalising men I’d imagine. I understand it was satire (and found it funny personally, once I knew it was a joke), but it certainly wasn’t perceived as satire by most people who read it, including the papers who unfortunately for her took it and reported it seriously.

  • Jim M

    This is why any politician should think damn hard before putting out anything like that…

  • AMORR86

    Sorry, I meant that 2015 was an example of the Post-Lo SB election and that even in that environment GP only could recieve just less than 6%.

  • Jag

    “Support increased spending on cycle infrastructure throughout Northern Ireland to the value of £25 per person”

    So, there are around 1.85m people in Northern Ireland today, and that commitment translates into a spend of £46m. Is that per year, or over five years, or is it a one-off?

    And what does cycle infrastructure mean? Dedicated cycle lanes on existing roads, most of which are too narrow to allow a 3 foot band on the verge to accommodate cyclists. Would it be better to spend modest money on a few PSNI sting operations to target bicycle thieves?

  • Jag

    The manifesto says GP will incentivise the building of 2,000 (energy efficient, natch) residences a year for social housing.

    But as the recent blog on Slugger on housing revealed, there are 40,000 households on the social housing waiting list.

    What an unambitious target.

  • Graham Parsons

    A year is a long time in politics. Don’t see any reason why a nationalist in South Belfast would vote for the Alliance as first choice in an assembly election. Their pathetic triangulation over the 1916 anniversary showed they can play the sectarian card like the best of them.

    If you want a non-sectarian representative, who has a sensible attitude towards woman’s rights you should be voting Green in this election.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Regarding greenways, I think it has tourist potential too, check out this chap: https://nigreenways.com/2015/09/07/glens-ofantrim-greenway/

  • Kevin Breslin

    “The health service “should start with keeping people healthy, beginning with exercise, a good diet and a healthy lifestyle” [Ed – bloggers beware!] …. ”

    Alan Meban (and whoever Ed is) may I shake your hands, this is the most ingenious bit of lampshade hanging parody I have ever seen on this website.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LampshadeHanging

  • Gaygael

    Oh the poor men……

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Aside from the reservations some people may have regarding IE everything here seems sensible enough surely? (OK, I’m ignorant of the machinations regarding homelessness and home allocation).

    I like the idea of an environmental protection agency, especially if it has teeth and can fine people for illegal dumping, dredging and drilling malpractice etc (NI is one of the worst places I’ve ever seen for litter and trash).

    And a national park and cycle-greenways would be an extra feather in the tourism cap.

  • Ryan A

    PaddyPower have slashed the odds on Claire twice in 24 hours.

  • Granni Trixie

    Whilst There is consensus emerging on the need for reforms as law and guidance docs in Ni are not fit for purpose,there are different elements not just the black and white issue it perhaps was. The Greens for instance seem to be calling for abortion on demand even though I heard Stephen Agnew say he doesn’t like this term. Though their policy is likely to appeal to some voters to others it is on the extremes of the argument amd likely to turn them off.

    From doorsteps experience for instance I have listened to people complain about Alliance support for choice in cases of FFA and policy of leaving reps to follow their conscience. So I think you are wrong in some of your assumptions – people’s views on abortion are more nuanced and Complex than a simplistic “woman’s right to chose” slogan suggests.

  • Msiegnaro

    They went to the knees up in City Hall so what is the issue for you?

    As a Unionist the fact Naomi and co went to the knees up for 1916 is another issue with Alliance for me.

  • Msiegnaro

    Alliance (Paula Bradshaw) took it pretty seriously too.

  • Gaygael

    Abortion on demand klaxxon. There is no such thing. It’s hugely insulting and demeaning to the thousands of women who access terminations every year, to use this language. Its not like going to a cash machine.

    We support the extension of the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland. We are the only assembly party calling for it.
    We are currently in breach of the minimum human rights standards. I can’t believe that progressives cannot support a minimum compliance on human rights.

    We have been getting firm support on the doors for this. We also occasionally get a negative reaction (usually from men), but we are firm in our policy and belief. Many that are disenfranchised with their regular parties failure on this issue are switching to Green.

    We got a membership boost in February after the assembly debate. We led the way on marriage. We are leading the way on this. We hope, just like in marriage, others will come to join us.

  • Gaygael

    Alliance types jumped all over it. They deliberately misread it for their own narrow political agenda. Naomi Long in particular. It took a few of the founder feminists of Belfast feminist network to put Long in her place.

  • BelfastRedd

    That was a serious mistake from Clare Bailey – no one got the ‘joke’, the abortion ‘joke’. Even worse was the car crash attempt by East Belfast candidate to explain it on the Nolan show, in between saying ‘ in terms of’ and ‘direction of travel’, in the world’s worst game of Buzzword Bingo. Makes them look amateurish.

  • Granni Trixie

    I want to see change but the Green way on this one is not the way forward.

  • Graham Parsons

    Your “abortion on demand” comments and adoption of the same narratives as the the other failed major parties simply confirm that a vote for the alliance is a vote for more of the same.

    I fully support the availability of abortion on demand up to a specific period of time. If you approve of IVF you support abortion on demand.

  • Granni Trixie

    Your last sentence is part of the reason I say the Greens approach is based on a flawed understanding of the problem hence not the way forward.

  • Granni Trixie

    It is disappointing that instead of inclusive,respectful conversations on the issue you are the one politicising it unnecessarily. May I also say that using terms such as “Alliance types” does you no favours just displays your ignorance of what it is like to belong to a party which attracts a broad church of opinion. Keep digging.

  • Granni Trixie

    Wishful thinking.

  • Cavehill

    I saw Alliance members and also socialists of different shades discussing it. Bailey needs to be a bit cleverer in the future because the whole stunt left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Remember, very few people are going to trawl through Naomi Long’s facebook page and read an argument she has with BFN members. They’re going to read the article which presents Bailey’s proposal as legitimate and then move on.

  • Graham Parsons

    Flawed, yet you don’t explain why?
    Typical Alliance party, trying to dance on the head of a pin and always falling off.

  • Graham Parsons

    Church being the appropriate word. Politics isn’t about trying to attract a “broad church” of opinion. That way lies careerism.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Who is the ‘she’ you are talking about here? The Queen paying her respects to the republican dead in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance? Arlene Foster attending the Church of Ireland 1916 commemoration event in Dublin? What exactly is your issue?

  • Gaygael

    I’m sure we will all be pragmatic in the next assembly. We couldn’t get ffa and sexual crime in the last mandate. Let’s see how the numbers look after May and push for a free vote.

    The other challenge is the HR challenge to UK. We cannot have differential human rights standards within the state. Extend the 67. And when the 67 is reviewed over the next few years, follow that review.

  • Gaygael

    I’m disappointed that progressives can’t support a minimum human rights standard. I hope that changes in the next mandate. I hope the SDLP move at their next confernece. I hope some more liberal UUP MLAs get elected.

    It’s an election. It’s the most important time to clearly articualte this issue. I think this will feature significantly in the next mandate.

  • Gaygael

    I think the people who are voting for her got it. I think political opponents tried to dress it as it wasn’t.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’ve never voted Green before but having read the manifesto, I find myself in agreement with most of it. If we want change I guess we have to vote differently this time around and Green seems as good a way to go as any.

    I would actually encourage everyone in Northern Ireland to give their first preference vote to a party that didn’t take part in the executive last time around. I don’t care if it’s the conservatives, labour alternative, the workers party, ukip, the cannabis party or (God help us all) the tuv, let’s let the scoundrels know that they cant take us for granted and that we can throw them out if we want to.

  • Msiegnaro

    Not now Johnny.

  • Cavehill

    People voting for her being all 2000 from 2015 plus the 1000 or so you expect to put on for the Assembly vote. That’s a big ask for that many people to get it. But good luck, I’d love to see more Greens in the Assembly.

  • Granni Trixie

    It’s not a matter of targeting a broad church of opinion rather that in creating a party culture where it’s OK to be different, people of diverse backgrounds are attracted.

  • Granni Trixie

    Flawed because the reps of the Greens when speaking on the issue discourse do not seem to include the spectrum of opinion as reflecting legitimate concerns.
    Your rude way of expressing your views here ditto.
    A firm policy on abortion does not allow for conscience.

    ‘Dancing on the head of a pin’ also illustrates that you have not grasped that it is a big step for some to move to a middle ground on the case for change in abortion legislation/guidelines whilst at the same time believing they ought to stand up for value for life. I think it is perfectly valid to hold slippery slope concerns.

  • Granni Trixie

    You say sensible – many would say extreme.

  • BelfastRedd

    It seems a bit much and perhaps a little arrogant to suggest that those who somehow deserved to, were the ones who ‘got it’. Clare Bailey should surely be trying to persuade instead of odd tactics like this. There is still no convincing explanation of it and creating a ‘them and us’ situation won’t help convince people or spread compassion.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Now that you’ve cleared that one up one is only left wondering why a self confessed non unionist party attending a 1916 commemorative event is an issue for a unionist while the Queen or the First Minister doing something similar isn’t…….

  • Graham Parsons

    Sorry but that’s just nonsense and typical alliance fence sitting. If you have a different opinion on abortion join a different party. There is no middle ground here. You are either pro choice or not. Talking about big steps and spectrum of opinion is just another way to kick the can down the road.

  • Graham Parsons

    So you’d be calling all feminists extremists then? The extremists are people who force vulnerable women to go ahead with pregnancies when with the right support the problem could be sorted out in days.

  • Graham Parsons

    How long have the alliance been wishing for a breakthrough?

  • Granni Trixie

    If your lack of recognition of the range of views on abortion is representative of GP thinking that is very disappointing not to say off putting. And plain wrong.

  • Granni Trixie

    My partner and myself regard ourselves as ‘feminist’.

  • Brendan Heading

    gg, for my own part, I can assure you that I did not deliberately misread it. There are people out there who would make proposals like that in all seriousness. We are living in the sort of place where an MP puts a motion before the House of Commons to regulate ouija boards; you have to be careful with satire that it isn’t so close to reality that you can’t tell.

  • Brendan Heading

    Graham,

    Yes, there is a middle ground, and a spectrum of opinion on the matter. The job here is to coax more people away from the pro-life extreme and encourage more people to move further along the spectrum. You won’t do that by insulting them or calling them DUP-lite.

    The Greens are not well placed to deliver lectures on this. Abortion was a conscience issue for Greens until 2013. There has been Green representation in the Assembly since 2008, and yet not a single private member’s bill on abortion reform. This is not because the Greens are not serious about reform, it is because it’s harder than you think to get done.

  • Brendan Heading

    Graham, the Green Party in Belfast dealt with the controversy around 1916 by running away from it. I appreciate that you may think that dodging difficult issues is preferable to trying to identify a way forward that addresses mutual concern and stresses the need for dialogue and mutual respect; I hope GP voters are aware that this is what they’re getting.

  • Msiegnaro

    Alliance claim to be neutral, however one expects they will shun the Twelfth as usual.

  • Gaygael

    Thank you. I am hopeful for more diversity in the assembly, but I think independents may struggle to return.

    2238 last time. Up from 1300 of so in council 2014, for 3 green candidates. Plus the hundreds of others that told us last year they were voting SDLP tactically to keep out SF/DUP. You don’t think we had their cards marked and we’re back at their doors again?

    And we have been out since october.

    Good chance of other greens in the assembly. If you are in cavehill you can help me….. 😉

  • Gaygael

    This is about new conversations and refreshing tired old discourse. The sudden reaction when it was suggested that men should have some culpability, not just women……

  • Gaygael

    Fair enough. We disagree, but I take your point.

  • Gaygael

    What’s extreme?

  • Gaygael

    Our policy changed in 2013. Within 3 years we added an amendement to the justice bill taking the opportunity to make our law compliant with human rights. We are not delivering lectures. We are a progressive party that believes in human rights. We don’t think they are a thing of conscience.

    Steven, during his term was exposing the dump at Muobuoy and sand dredging at Lough Neagh. He was highlighting and forcing Sinn Fein to backpedal on their welfare reform bad deals, bringing the most amendements to welfare to ameliorate them and bringing the first ever LGBT motion to the assembly. All the while piloting the children’s bill through the assembly to law, despite initial opposition.

    How many private members bills have alliance MLAs brought?

    And as I stated earlier in the thread, we all hope more liberal UUP MLAs get elected, that the SDLP and alliance move to support minimum human rights or in the SDLP’s case, allowing free vote. We hope Sinn Fein, with the repeal the eight debate in the south, and their youth wing moving to a poor choice position, will shift.
    We also hope a bloodied DUP are much less louche in their abuse of the petition of concern or that it is reformed significantly.

    If there are more Greens in the next mandate, we are happy to be pragmatic, while still pursuing our policy. I feel this issue, like marriage in the last mandate, will be the social issue of the next one.

  • Gaygael

    There are a range of views. Just like there are on other social issues, such as divorce or same sex marriage.

    We have taken a policy position on them, which is agreed by our party.

  • Brendan Heading

    Within 3 years we added an amendement to the justice bill taking the opportunity to make our law compliant with human rights

    That’s a slightly fanciful take on what happened. While the Greens were doing nothing on this issue in terms of the assembly, the Alliance justice minister was consulting on incremental reform. When the Executive blocked that, two Alliance MLAs proposed amendments to the justice bill. The Green Party leader then proposed a “me too” amendment, which he withdrew in favour of the Alliance amendment.

    In terms of private members bills and so on, I’m not trying to highlight in general terms the issue of who does or does not bring bills forward; I’m pointing out that the amount of noise that enthusiastic Green activists are making about this specific issue is at odds with the non-action of the party within the assembly chamber where it has had the capacity to draw attention to it.

  • Gaygael

    I know you are not trying to highlight how many bills alliance backbench MLAs have brought to law. How many was it in the last mandate? The previous one?

    There is limited capacity with one MLA. Imagine the change we could affect with 8. Let’s see how we do with more, particularly if we elect one of the norths leading pro-choice activists.

  • Graham Parsons

    The only view that matters on abortion is the opinion of the woman. Talking about a range of views is irrelevant and as I’ve said elsewhere typical alliance fence sitting.

  • Graham Parsons

    On the feminist scale pro life feminists sit somewhere between Ted Bundy and Henry vIII.

  • Ryan A

    I believe it’s part of his strategy to differentiate himself from Nuala and Nichola in North Belfast. He’s absolutely entitled to do so and I hope he drives the turnout up. In any case it’s negative campaigning but hey, Nuala could use his transfers.

  • Ryan A

    Yeah… The only other candidate I’ve read wanting to ‘criminalize’ a group is Susan Ann White. That’s not a good place to be…

  • Ryan A

    Well Anna Lo wasn’t standing last year and Alliance got more votes, go figure.

  • Ryan A

    I don’t see any reason why a Nationalist would vote for anyone else in an election where there are sitting Nationalist seats at risk…

  • Cavehill

    I’ll sling you a vote, probably not my #1 though.

  • Gaygael

    Pleasure. Every one is an honour.

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