Fresh demands for a civic forum for Northern Ireland for increased integration, confidence and democracy.
The Green party of England and Wales has taken a small lead over the Liberal Democrats in a new opinion poll, prompting demands for broadcasters to include the party in the television general election debates. Over the past months there has been a growing Green surge, with numbers increasing greatly in the past weeks.
This growth however, has been noticeable over the past year, as the Green party tied with the Conservatives at a 22% poll for second place amongst 18-24 year-olds in the latest YouGov polling. Reports have also shown that support has grown from those with higher levels of education. This polling further calls into question Ofcom’s initial view that the Green Party is not a ‘major party.’
Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:
“Polling such as this from YouGov clearly demonstrates the strength of the ‘Green surge’. The broadcasters and the regulator need to recognise that the politics of the future does not have to look like the politics of the past.
“Denying the Green Party ‘major party’ status or an invitation to the Leaders’ Debates fails both our democracy and the electorate. Attempting to exclude the Green voice from the mainstream of British politics looks more and more ridiculous by the day.”
Last week the Green Party announced that their membership had raised to 50,000 members from across the UK. While the Green Party membership in Northern Ireland, is relatively low compared to these numbers, there has been a ‘Wee Green Surge’ with its membership more than doubling over the past year.
“People like what we stand for. We are the only party opposed to austerity and the scapegoat of minority groups who are not responsible for our current crises. The public applaud straight talking on the state of our financial system and the control that big businesses and banks have on our lives. We have to get past the damaging rhetoric that the other parties are using to deflect from their own failures,” Clive Gregory.
It is not yet known what impact this favourable reaction and continued visibility in the media will have, but this clear growth means they can no longer be ignored.
Ciaran McClean, Green Party representative for West Tyrone, says in Northern Ireland the Green party has placed social justice, equality and integration which celebrates cultural diversity at the core of its politics.
“As part of a European movement, we have a vision for an alternative, integrative economic and social life for all citizens. We envisage, at all levels of government from the European Union down to a local community, a system that would be legitimate, accessible and act only in the shared interest of its citizens.
“Many within the political establishment in Northern Ireland regard social diversity as a threat to the status quo which has electorally worked in their favour for decades. The Green Party NI wants to reflect a new reality in Northern Ireland, one which is increasingly international, secular and open.
“The 1998 Good Friday Agreement proved that citizens are often the leaders willing to take the kind of chances politicians shy away from for fear of electoral punishment. In a society where people have, for understandable reasons, disengaged with how politics impact upon their everyday lives it’s imperative that open political dialogue replaces apathy. The Green Party champions policies to reflect Northern Ireland as it is, not how those with vested interested in containing change would like it to be
“The demography of Northern Ireland has changed as it has evolved. Fewer people subscribe to ‘Unionist’ and ‘Nationalist’ labels. Increasing numbers of our citizens are from societies with different values and histories. This new diversity is not currently reflected in our political system. Establishing a civic forum for Northern Ireland would be a positive step towards increased integration, confidence and real democracy in our society.”
The party speaks out on integration as a tool for further generations to fulfil their true potential, “It is fundamental to Northern Ireland’s ability to transform, that we understand what ‘integration’ in the 21st century means.”
Recent Stormont expense scandals being aired, and suggestions that money channelled to certain “cultural societies” as a way of channelling public money to political parties, has once again left the general public concerned over corruption within the current system. The Greens have commented on the importance of openness, and an end to the a veil of secrecy over financial donations to political parties in Northern Ireland.
“An open and integrated society would demand transparency in its political system and make corruption cost those engaging in it.”