Fighting the Green fight in Northern Ireland

Green party Co Chairs John Barry and Kelly Andrews are both standing for election in North Down. He has a realistic chance of being one of the first in his party to take a council seat. Of local (Slugger) interest is that Barry’s Alliance party rival Ian Parsley (affectionately known here at Slugger as IJP) is being slated number one in the Holywood seat to his higher profile running mate David Alderdice.Barry reckons they are getting most interest on the doorstep from those in their late thirties and early forties – not a group most given to voting – especially in North Down where turnout was a low 59.1% in 2001.

Gaining credibility for such a small party is important. The fact that the Greens are in government in Germany and are the fourth largest group in the European parliament surprises most people on the doorstep, but will it gain the votes.

The key issues are local. “It comes down to simple things, like dogshit on the street, recycling and the fact the sewage plant is not working. And the secrecy around planning is another key issue. For years a town like Holywood had no protection from developers, until recently Angela Smith (a direct rule minister) came in over the heads of everyone and planted preservation order”.

Andrews cuts in: “Lack of transparency in planning has had major consequences for Bangor. It’s a classic case of what happens when you don’t have adequate planning controls. The town has grown too rapidly for its sewerage infrastructure. There are something 60,000 homes issuing raw sewage into the sea at Carnalea and Orlock”.

The Greens already hold a seat in Bangor, held by Brian Wilson. Barry hopes to join him in council, but a third seat looks unlikely. Across NOrthern Ireland they are aiming to have four or five councillors after 5th May.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty