Cadogan Enright talks up the Green Party in South Down (#ae11 #sdo11)

South Down, along with North Down and South Belfast, is one of the target constituencies for the Green Party, if not for immediate Assembly seats, then at least for growth in its voter base and local council representation.

Their Assembly candidate in South Down is Cadogan Enright, already a sitting councillor on Down District Council and the recent runner-up to Steven Agnew for the Green Party leadership in Northern Ireland.

I caught up with him while out canvassing in the Corrigs Avenue area of Newcastle and asked him about their priority issues this election and their prospects on polling day.

When challenged that the Assembly election could actually prove disastrous for the Greens, with a possible loss of their sole seat in North Down and success in South Down still likely to be out of reach, he preferred to talk up their chances, speculating that they may nearly double their 2007 Assembly election vote in #sdo11 (though still well short of the likely required quota) and the return of three to four of their roster of local council candidates in the area.

Interestingly, he contrasted the Greens’ organic growth in South Down with their 2007 Assembly breakthrough in North Down, when they were able to capitalise on the strong personal vote of Brian Wilson which he brought to the party after many years as an Alliance Party and then independent councillor. Wilson has now* not left the party and* but will be running for North Down council as an independent, while his wife Councillor Anne Wilson is the Alliance candidate for the Assembly in the constituency, competing head-on with Agnew for votes. (*Update / correction: Brian Wilson has been in touch to correct the original post which stated that he had left the Green Party. This is not the case – while he is running as independent candidate in the local elections, he remains a member of the Green Party. Brian – thanks for the clarification.)

The situation in North Down is a bit different, because here we didn’t actually assume an independent to share a seat with us, if you follow me. We have had organic growth. When we first ran here, we ran with four local government candidates and two of them got in. This time we are running wth five, and those five candidates are consistent campaigners and have been – if you look at our website – considently campaigning for years … so people would know us. So we have organic growth over the last number of years.

Now with five candidates at local government level in this area, I would say that at least three and possibly four will get in. Based on that, I would say we have a very strong chance of boosting our vote to 2,500 or 3,000 and that’s what other people are telling me, other political parties are telling me. We have an organic growth in this area – that was absent in North Down – based on long-standing, active Green Party members.

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  • They will do well in South Down but not as well as their candidate thinks.
    They do after all get well over twice the AP vote in the constituency.
    But the fiasco of their part in the Dublin coalition will mitigate against them and largely due to limited resources they have taken a step backwards from 2007.
    Standing in only six constituencies they have retreated to east of the Bann and Belfast suburbia. Apity because they were ahead of Alliance in Upper Bann, Newry-Armagh and Foyle.
    Claire Bailey will make an impact and might take a council seat. Good things are also said of Conor Quinn in Lagan Valley…….

  • granni trixie

    As is easily observed, environmental/green values have been widely disseminated and absorbed including onto the agenda of some political parties. Also, at least twenty years ago one could also see evidence of green seepage into and from the peace movement in NI. I used not to be especially interested in green issues but have been influenced by listening to the persepctives of such people in Alliance for example.

    So it seems to me that the problem the Greens have to grapple with is convincing voters that they are not a single issue party. Or that they are willing to make pragmatic decisions where it seems sensible to do so.

  • RyanAdams

    I can see why South Down voters would be in touch with Green party policies. When you look at the environmental beauty of South Down, in particulary the Mournes, the Strangford lough and places like Castlewellan Forest Park they are very likely to focus in their policies on these key aspects, so I’d expect them to do well in and around these areas. Its very likely SF and SDLP will a slip a few votes to them but probably not enough to get them any where near an assembly seat unless the UUP candidate is eliminated, in which case they may have a chance to sweep up a few #2s of McCallister, However its more likely his vote will go to Jim Wells first, and the remainder to the SDLP to ensure they get the seat and not SF.

    I think they will increase representation on Down Council, probably at the expense of the SDLP.

  • Its not easy being green Granni Trixie. (And perhaps not surprisingly you applaud the APs “green” agenda).
    To be honest I am still the kinda person that needs convinced.
    Cycling 24 miles to work (and getting a cardiac ambulance) home, I never found appealing. And the familys succession of little cars was of necessity rather than a need to emulate Jeremy Clarkson.
    Green-ness is something best done by rich people. If I could save the environment by downgrading from a new Lamborghini to a new Ferrari……I probably would. Cos I like polar bears.
    Asked to (or told to) downgrade from a six year old Nissan Micra to a car even more despised on “Top Gear” and I get a bit irritable. Id shoot the polar bears myself.
    They may have a slightly holier than thou attitude….(an attitude not confined to the Greens of course) but all other parties who have in some way adopted Green policies seem to be using the Green agenda as a way of increasing taxes……..car tax, energy prices etc.
    For example…….a few years back…our local council emptied our “blue” bin every Monday. And our “green” bin every other Thursday. But then……to save the planet….they introduced alternate blue and green collections on a Monday.
    Thats two journeys per fortnight rather than two……..which would make the polar bears really happy. …if it wasnt for the long line of Nissan Micras at the dump every Saturday.
    There was a time when we were a five adult family that this actually affected on a weekly basis. Now we are a two person (but five polling card) family, I should probably get over it.
    If I was actually concerned about Green issues…..and Im not……Id vote Green, mainly cos they are actually sincere.
    Id never take any other partys “green agenda” seriously.

  • HeinzGuderian

    The Polar Bears will adapt of die……….harsh,yet true !! Yes,we may be responsible for Global Warming,we may not. 15p for a plastic carrier bag,won’t save the planet,though !!

    Did you know ( not a lot of people know this ) The sun gives of more energy in One second,than mankind has,in his entire existance on Earth !!! An amazing fact,don’t ya think ??

    Of course the amount of waste we produce is woeful. The amount of paper products we use is nothing short of scandalous !! Even in this electronic age,I would wager that our paper consumption has never been greater !!

    The planet doesn’t need saving. We cannot destroy it. We can destroy life on it. But hey,when religious fanatics fly aeroplanes into buildings. When 6 Million people are exterminated because of their religious beliefs. When belief in invisible Sky Daddies are cherised above all else. Life on this planet,(human life anyway) isn’t that much of a loss !!

  • Sean Og

    Well said that man.

  • RebVolley

    “Green-ness is something best done by rich people. If I could save the environment by downgrading from a new Lamborghini to a new Ferrari……I probably would.”

    I would argue strongly against the notion that being Green is for the rich, not with approximately 44% of NI living in fuel poverty. Like yourself Fitzjames, I’d love the choice between one big car or another, but instead I’m preoccupied with how to heat my home and feed my family.

  • Actually RebVolley, I no longer drive (my commitment to being “green” AND keeping death off the roads).
    But as always I think of Will Self….the journalist who wants air fares raised because too many people are flying to Paris and Milan. and its ruining the planet.
    But putting air fares to Paris and Milan by ten fold would still enable Will Self to travel to these places.
    But it would disproportionately affect people who are not “rich”.
    Perhaps licensing the number of times Will Self or the rest of us can leave the country in a year is a fairer option.

  • Reader

    granni trixie: So it seems to me that the problem the Greens have to grapple with is convincing voters that they are not a single issue party.
    Not their only problem. I am concerned about peak oil, starvation and pollution. Also; I’m nearly convinced about AGW. But *because* of that I’m not going to vote for a party that opposes nuclear power and GM crops. A party of hippies and luddites isn’t going to sort out our problems

  • RebVolley

    I’ll admit that the environmental movement does of course have supporters in the higher income bracket, those who can afford to be Green as it is often put, but a few outspoken commentators are not representative of a movement (Will Self has the benefit of soapbox to get his view across). There’s a a changing trend I think, a move towards the social benefits of green politics, that are making it appeal to more working class people.

  • Wasted Ballot

    I still don’t get why Wilson is standing as an independent if he is still a member of the greens?

    Either way I wish them luck even tho they decided to treat north Belfast as a lepard colony and won’t stand a candidate there for the first time ever.

  • ThomasMourne

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the South Down electorate moved from their usual sectarian preferences and voted Green and/or Alliance.

    Some hope!

  • Zig70

    I don’t remember Conor Quinn being a tree hugger. V smart and ambitious though.

  • Charminator

    Has anyone been following South Down enough to know if this guy has a pup’s chance of making it? I looked on Ark and he polled pretty dismally in the Westminster elections last year, much worse than the Green councillor from Rostrevor traditionally has.
    Seems like a little bit of dreaming on this Enright’s part.
    Worse still for him, he’s quoted as telling Mark Devenport that
    “Northern Ireland will potentially get its first Green Lord as a result of this process”.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markdevenport/2011/01/baron_enright.html

    In a predominantly Nationalist constituency, albeit a light green one, that’s hardly going to do him any favours.

  • To be frank Ive always thought of Mr Enright as a bit of a fantasist. But during election time he deserves that I suspend that thought. There IS a Green vote in South Down……but not nearly enough.