Monday, 24 February 2014

Lagan Valley candidates for Lisburn / Castlereagh supercouncil elections

The Lagan Valley Green Party are running 3 candidates locally in the upcoming election. The Green Party are fielding 1 MEP candidate.

LUKE ROBINSON, the current chair of the Lagan Valley Green Party, is running in DOWNSHIRE WEST.



Luke holds a doctorate in Meteorology and works as a maths tutor. He lives in Hillsborough with his wife and son.

Jonathan has a varied career path as a business owner, scientist, homelessness worker, administrator and researcher. He has lived in Lisburn his whole life.

James is a pharmacist. He has worked for the NHS and major healthcare providers in Northern Ireland and England. He has a special interest in addiction services.

Their aim as candidates is simple: to accurately reflect the views and desires of the majority of the people of Lagan Valley, and to make Lisburn a beautiful, friendly, busy and healthy city that works for the common good.


James and Jonathan maintain a Facebook page at as well as a twitter feed at votejandj .
Luke has a twitter feed at votelukeLVgreen .

You may also email to get in touch. 

Monday, 10 February 2014

A Response to the article by Gordon Johnston (@Thunder_struck) - The Economics of Freedom?

It was good to have an opportunity to engage in a proper discussion about economics – despite the limitations of twitter. We often deal with the perception that the Greens really don’t have any ideas on economics, or that we aren't allowed to have them because economics doesn't relate to the environmentalism we represent. The chief of these critics is one James Delingpole, a kind of less famous and male Katie Hopkins for those that don’t know him. He wrote a book which claimed that the green party are a “Watermelon” party – a neat little image, suggesting we are green on the outside but red on the inside. The implication here is that environmental issues and economic policy are separate, or more directly, that the green party shouldn't have any ideas on economics as that’s not what our title suggests. Now, that’s a pretty weird stance, but there is a sense that many of the Green Party’s detractors are keen to perpetuate this myth. 
            Gordon, in his blog post, draws a nice but quite over simplified dichotomy: he claims that he and his ilk represent “Libertarian” politics, which values freedom and the Greens, are “eco-socialists” (a term I have not heard before) who value security. Firstly, I would say that the greens are not eco socialists. Yes, there are people in the Green party that would call themselves socialists, but other still that would label their politics as “progressive”, “environmentalism”, “third way” and so forth. I wouldn’t describe myself as a socialist, for example. Yes, we do all share a common concern for the environment – which is why we are in the green party! But there is a range of opinion within the party. Therefore, this gentleman’s opinion is only indicative of his dislike of socialism.
            But what is Libertarianism really? It has named itself as a promoter of freedom. Synonyms for this stance include Anarcho Capitalism, Laissez Faire, Objectivism and Neo-Conservatism. Gordon outlines this freedom to essentially accrue capital, or wealth, with a limited interference from the state. This viewpoint many see as uniquely American. Indeed, some of its early proponents could hold this viewpoint morally – early pioneers of America were essentially escaping a dominant authoritarian moralising government that taxed most of its people into poverty. Ayn Rand, the person who created what she called “Objectivism”, fled Soviet persecution and so could speak with conviction about the brutality of self-proclaimed “socialist” states.
However, this new ideal of small / zero government regulation of financial and economic affairs, although sounding “liberating”, in practice contains everything inherent in its own destruction. It implies directly that those with the most money, or capital, are freer than everyone else. Bill Gates, for example, in both the current system and in a proposed Libertarian utopia, would have more freedom than say your average workaday person. He could choose without being restricted by cost, and work for his own benefit. He is able to order his time and is in no way indebted- or in service to anyone else for money. Your shelf stacker in a supermarket is required to sell his time to someone else, and so isn’t “free” to decide what to do and when to do it. His or her resources will not allow for an unhindered choosing of activity, or their choice of standard of medical care, travel, leisure time etc.. The idea of Libertarianism is therefore a misnomer. Your “freedom” is only achieved if you have sufficient resources to extricate yourself from wage labour, work for yourself or the like. And those that inherit wealth or receive it by chance will start off with more freedom than their peers have.
. The major controlling factor in this “Libertarian” state is access to resources. And, as our economy shows, the free market is no level playing field. The most aggressive, the biggest predators can decimate their rivals before they become a threat. This creates large, bloated corporations that have the market on a given product – pharmaceutical conglomerates are a supreme example of this.
            Not to mention the many “libertarian” policies that many will not agree with for reasons of common sense – scrapping minimum wage, legislation on working time, holiday pay, TOIL, sick pay indeed all semblance of job steadiness. It is likely that no one would be “compelled” to look after anyone else. That, and there would ideally be no control on what one may or may not consume – such as prostitution, narcotics, firearms, extreme pornography…
            It is also not the case that the private sector is the vanguard of efficiency in our economy. Anyone that has worked for any time at all in the private sector knows that efficiency is a back seat passenger compared with low cost. If not doing something saves you a few bob then its better than doing it. So you would expect on occasion to get poor standards of service. It is also the case that some things are not and will never be profitable, but are a requirement of society. You need look no further than the privatization and subsequent closing of the FSS Forensic labs in England for evidence of this. Forensic science is a costly and time consuming thing, and that’s at the top of the market. Demand is fixed and as yet, there are no all in one providers of forensic cover in the private market. Yes, private enterprises make the machines and so forth – where there is a profit to be made, but not in the actual processing. So in the event of a Libertarian government, some basic but financially un-viable services, including those where the government is the main customer, will shut down.
            The finest example of what an Anarcho Capitalist enterprise would look like that I can think of is the Mafia or black market. It operates largely outside of the normal structures of society, and has imposed on itself a massively rigid hierarchical structure that uses brutality, slavery and consumption of human life as its raw materials. They will supply whatever there is demand for, cut costs by using violence and coercion to create its product, and feed what are known to be vice industries. Rather than freedom, the Mafia has created a fascist culture that values nothing other than money and is completely separate from consequence.
            The libertarian model was by and large popularized in the UK by Margaret Thatcher, who freed the capital held by the state by denationalizing many industries, thus making many investors rich. At the same time she decreed that there was “no such thing” as society, and the government had no right to steal the profits of endeavour from business.
            Herein lies the key issue for me. The libertarian sees him or herself fundamentally on a little perch outside of nature. They may, provided they own the resource, convert it how they see fit and dispose of same in a cost effective manner. They may acknowledge “externalities” – such as pollution, social unrest and other human side effect from their business, but if they are not compelled by their own ethical code to redress this then they simply won’t.
            For your average Green Party member, this is a false paradigm. We are a PART of nature, integral. Whatever we do will have consequences – which the libertarian essentially denies. We have, by the irresponsible attitude of a creature lifted off of the face of the earth, created many environmental problems – such as pollution, most noticeable as air pollution domestically leading to more cases of asthma and disorder during winter months when fossil fuel burning is at its fiercest. In developing countries, there are countless examples of polluted rivers, streams lakes and seas, scorched earth, environmental disasters and the like. Our “freedom”, a very cursory search will show you, comes at a very heavy price for the poorest who are squeezed to produce our goods for consumption. The flighty industry has moved to places where no labour or environmental laws exist, allowing for low cost production. Therefore a pure economic “invisible hand” that regulates society quite simply doesn't work. It makes economic sense to save money and maximize profit.
            These are just a few of the myriad reasons as to why Libertarianism does not work in practice, and it is evidenced by the fact that it has not worked in practice. It is a mechanism that is unable to cope with the needs of society. If there is no financial incentive then it is simply not being done.
            So, rather than adopt a quirky ideological paradigm that looks only capable of providing “freedom” for the lucky and those with the sharpest elbows, we have looked at society and questioned the basic assumptions. Is it set up to provide us the best possible life for us all as a group, and individually as people?
            Taking as our example the Ian James Parsley (@ianjamesparsley) article about pensions. It is an often trumpeted more that the public sector, seen by its detractors as a rotund and sluggish organization, employs more people than it does comparatively with the rest of the UK. This is seen as hogging resources that could be used to better effect by private business, who would work to create a generally better system. In reality, if the public sector is decimated for ideological reasons, then the fledgling private sector in NI will also suffer more – as people quite simply have less money to spend. They will travel less, eat out less, socialize less, opt for less and what then will happen to business? Rather than stepping in to the seat vacated by the public sector, it will fly away to more fertile ground.
 That is quite basic economics coupled with common sense. If peoples pensions are rolled back, their reliance on the state will increase as they get older, they will be less able to pay for their own things making cutting a public service pension pot a very short sighted economic decision. That is yet another criticism of Libertarianism – the short term is everything, the long term nothing. Today’s expense is all that counts, and spending money to save more in the long run is an unspeakable blasphemy. But this is borne out by reality, whereas the boom and bust of the financial sector points out the inherent flaws with this Libertarian theory. And many governments are pursuing this plundering line in an effort to get the public back on side. The financial sector is similarly disturbing. I once chatted with a gentleman who worked in high level finance, and felt supremely guilty as the trading was dealt with by computer algorithms, with what got invested in peripheral to the price of the share. The high levels of money became mere abstractions, but in reality related to the livelihood and well-being of individuals, which he found disturbing. I found the film “The Wolf of Wall Street” demonstrated this callous selfishness and abstraction of high level finance very well, and it was a depressing film!
            In the Green Party, we look at reality first before making policy. It is not the case that, like these demagogues, we pick an ideological stance in much the same way as one chooses a football team to support and pledge unswerving allegiance. We are in no way anti-business or economic illiterates – indeed our MEP candidate is a former worker in HM treasury. We are careful, thoughtful people that wish to create a fair society that works in harmony with its people and the wider world, rather than a pirate nation state that operates in defiance of economic reality. We review our policy, and strive to create a reasoned argument that is the least deleterious to our well-being as a society. This is no enemy of liberty – the Green Party is clearly the most progressive and liberal party out there by some considerable distance, and is the only one arguing for greater freedom in terms of personal choice than any other.
            I am very glad that this debate happened – a lot of people couldn't see the difference between Alliance, The Green Party, NI21, and other smaller parties. Its quite clear from this debate that we are the only party that has a flexible line of economics – rather than an overt focus on responding in some degree to the troubles. We work equally for everyone, and aim towards the common good. Whilst I have refuted the efficacy of Libertarian dogma, we are not looking to restrict personal freedoms, but neither are we willing to sacrifice our long term happiness for the sake of our temporal. Care and concern for the human being and precious freedom is at the very heart of this, whereas the Libertarian argument only really appeals to narrow self interest and freedom defined as wealth. Libertarianism is somewhat of an “unknown ideal” to quote Rand, but many will not realize it is the world-view that is driving much of the Western World, and with environmental disaster, freak weather, unstable investments, chaotic markets, repressions of human freedom abound as "externalities" of this pursuit of wealth. These views we believe to be at odds with the morality and ethics of the vast majority of people in our society, that don't see a welfare system as a choke chain on the movers and shakers...

And there is always the untapped and potentially very vast Green Economy...! 

Further information: I recommend contacting Philip Allen, who is the leading speaker on Green Economics from Belfast’s Friends of the Earth, or reading any economic theory book which deals with criticism of the current model or eco-politics. I also recommend Dr Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on “Threefold Social Order”. Look up “true cost” and “climate change” too – and make up your own mind! 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Free Public Talk!

Lagan Valley Greens present a FREE public talk by lecturer and member of Belfast Friends of the Earth, Philip Allen. 
Ever wondered why our society works the way it does??? 

The economy is central to our civilization, managing our built environments, agriculture and food, health, education, transport, communications, waste managemnet, business and politics.

The economy mainly runs on oil and we are experiencing an energy crisis with an uncertain future.

We are also witnessing worsening extremes of weather patterns with January temperatures in Canada colder than on Mars and Australia reaching 50 degrees c - half of boiling point.

Never before in human history have we had to face such massive challenges.

A new healthy economy needs to supply our demands and repair the damage wreaked on the environment.
This concise and interesting message will cover the existing opportunities that will deliver us from eco-cide to the environmental security of a healthy economy.

The talk is FREE, complimentary refreshments will be served and will be followed by a brief introduction to the Lagan Valley Green Party.

The venue is the Atlas Women's Centre, at 7:30pm on Monday the 27th of January. No need to book and all welcome!

See you there. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

2013: A "GREAT YEAR" for the DUP!

Just for fun! Here is a swift look back at the DUP Lagan Valley Hit Parade of 2013! Well done guys! :)

Why? Well, despite the money spent on a mini ceremony and a fetching plaque as well as the photo op... not a lot of good reasons, especially at this time of cuts and austerity. For some things.

Jonathan Craig's MLA Round Robin flyer proclaims it as a DUP shepherded environmental victory... and yet the self same party weigh in heavily as soon as residents object to it. Totally consistent.

Anaerobic digesters are one thing, but they are much more safe and environmentally sound than a burner. DUP happy to see it go through. Many of the same objections raised to this burner were raised when the AD plant at McCulla was discussed, but no DUP MLA has weighed in on this nice little earner.

Councillor Jenny Palmer goes on the TV alleging what very much appears as corruption involving the local DUP party (putting pressure to award a contract to folks who are worse than useless and expensive)... Jeffrey Donaldson descends and now, we are told, everything is hunky dory. No further investigation required. How Odd... 

Nice work Margaret Tolerton, this was your only other action of note aside from attending one LV A&E protest. This received a good bit of media coverage and cemented the idea in many commentators   media presences that Lisburn is a cold house for the outside world, and was very Scrooge-y at a traditionally festive time of the year. Remember, the Mayor isn't supposed to do anything politically controversial.... 

 For years, many DUP leading lights enjoyed not one, but two salaries and expense accounts as both MLAs and Councillors - just like crafty Paul Givan and Jonathan Craig. Even better, they left their seats to newbie candidates (including Luke Poots, Edwin's son) meaning that roughly 10% of the sitting councillors in Lisburn City Council have had no mandate. But their spiffy election posters will include the claim they are experienced servants of the people of Lisburn rather than shoe ins and bench warmers! Nice!

That reads "Frack" by the way! And it refers to "Fracking", the environmentally unsound practice of extracting oil, gas and similar from shale rock. We have that in Lisburn, and at our debate on Fracking held in Friends' School, Sammy Wilson - the self proclaimed climate change skeptic, ex minister for the environment and top DUP economy "expert" would have no issues opening Lisburn for it. Thanks.

After homely bumpkin William Leathem had a go last year, controversially Margaret Tolerton was selected as the 2013 mayor much to the annoyance of everyone that wasn't a DUP councillor. The idea was to do it turnabout, but the DUP obviously fancied another go. Remember last year they launched the failed Orange Order freedom of the city amongst other things...  Stephen Martin, the Alliance councillor was understood to have been the preferred candidate, but thats what happens when you have too much power. And the implication is, the DUP don't like to share.

Fair Play to Margaret Tolerton for turning up at the UNISON organized protests, but surely the blame ultimately rests on the shoulders of the Health Minister, who at this point in time happens to be one Mr Lagan Valley DUP Edwin Poots, who appears happy to heap the scorn on the Trust rather than accepting he could have done more? He has known of this issue since 2011, according to reporting.

Yes, we are the proud home seat of the years biggest waster of taxpayers' money on legal advice, Mr Edwin Poots. He is keen to point out that he has done other "good" works in office via his twitter account, but it appears popular opinion holds it the real reason Edwin was holding back same sex adoption and blanket banning men who have sex with men from donating blood (rather than having a 1 or 2 year delay period) was due to his personal beliefs.
He is on record as saying that homosexuality is "abominable" and "unnatural" on the Stephen Nolan show. Some people would class that as homophobic, and besides that, he is giving Lisburn a bad reputation because this is where he was voted in!

LUKE POOTS for saying something "ambiguous" to Stephen Nolan on twitter that some took to imply Nolan had been nice to gay activists because Nolan himself was gay. He went on to claim via the Ulster Star to have been the victim of a vile campaign by "trolls" in response to this; and anyway he never even done it. This is called having your cake and eating it. He also used Twitter to scorn the "socialists" who turned up to voice concern at his Daddy during the "give Poots the boot" campaign, champion a DUP mate of his who got co-opted in Portadown (lucky duck!) and generally say gauche things. This is perhaps why he no longer has a public twitter profile.


Anglers have been annoyed for a long time that a lot of agricultural pollution resulting in criminal damage to the local environment is being basically ignored. A missed opportunity. 

Nice sketches, but a bit of a mess and basically single file at our main outdoors retail street. The town centre is struggling. A masterstroke of planning. 

There are plenty more, which is very sad! Let us know if we have left out your favorites.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY. Yes, it looks like Lisburn has been too cosy for our friends in the DUP. They have a lot of seats and by gosh, they do look to have been throwing it about a fair bit. Too much power has allowed them to get away with more than they perhaps should have.
Do you agree that Lisburn needs councillors who are able to act in the best interests of ALL the people of Lisburn and Castlereagh, and who won't wish to waste money on settling old scores?

Well then! - VOTE GREEN for a BETTER 2014! 

Unless you like the old sectarian stalemate! Will 2014 be a year of a DUP SUPERCOUNCIL? If so, the 2014 list will write itself....

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Lagan Valley Greens create petition for Book of Condolence for Nelson Mandela

The Lagan Valley Green Party has reacted with sadness at the decision of Lisburn's Mayor, Margaret Tolerton, to refuse to create a book of condolence for Nelson Mandela. In doing so we believe she has made Mandela's death a political issue, when there was no need to do so.

Secondly it has tarnished Lisburn's image at a time of year when we need as much goodwill as we can get to foster our town's economy. We believe that the many residents of Lisburn who wish to convey their sympathy and warm regards to the surviving family and those who have felt the loss worldwide should have the ability to do so.

In the past Lisburn City Council has opened these books for Alex Higgins and George Best as well as other prominent figures upon news of their deaths. Why not Nelson Mandela, who is held up worldwide as an exemplary person?

We have created an online petition for all those who wish to have a book of condolence in Lisburn Civic Centre. It can be found, and digitally signed, at:

It is also linked to on our twitter account @lvgreens and at  .

We hope common sense will prevail and Margaret Tolerton reverses her decision.

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Lagan Valley Greens press release on the Fracking Debate, held in Friends' School Lisburn on the 11th of October 2013.

We would first like to congratulate Friends' School Lisburn on being excellent hosts for the debate which we organized on Fracking. This debate has shown Friends to be incredibly responsive to local and current issues, and the intelligent and probing questions asked by their pupils of every speaker is very much to their credit. It is hard to think of another school with the same level of engagement and concern that their young people truly engage with life in Northern Ireland.
We sought to invite a panel that displayed a range of opinions on the issue from Non-governmental organizations, the Fracking industry and politicians. The panel quite clearly showed these ranges of opinion on the topic. All were well informed and had clearly spent time considering the issue. We believe that young people from Friends can now consider the evidence for themselves knowing where most of the major parties stand on Fracking - and their justifications.
We are disappointed that Tamboran, who have applied to begin exploratory drilling with a view to engaging in Fracking in Northern Ireland felt they could not attend. Great care was taken to ensure a neutral space where each speaker could outline their view prior to being challenged, and questions were from young people from the school rather than other speakers on the panel. We are concerned that this displays somewhat of a disdain for democracy. Tamboran's own statement implied that they do not want to share a platform. You must ask yourself why not, after all it is the politicians as legislators and the people of Northern Ireland that must decide wether or not Fracking should occur rather than market forces and private business interests.
It also became quite clear which parties people should vote for if they wish to see Fracking take place, and likewise if they do not want to see Fracking. Ross Brown, Anna Lo and Niall Bakewell outlined the sound, evidence based and concerning reasons that Fracking is not suitable for Northern Ireland. Along with the concerns that minister Mark H Durkan has expressed about Fracking, we sincerely hope that parties co-operate to ensure that Fracking is made as democratic as possible. It is clear that many have objections, but the one thing that was not clear from today was how much power the people have in determining if Fracking occurs or not, and how happy Sammy Wilson and Basil McCrea would be if Fracking began in their constituencies.
There is quite clearly some diversity in scientific opinion, as was raised, but significantly enough genuine concerns for us not to forge ahead without gravely considering the consequences. It is also clear that at a time of fuel stress Fracking may seem like an easy option, again from today it is clear that it is no such thing.
It is great to see our young people thinking critically and with the environment in mind. As they rightly stated, it is their futures which are at stake from decisions made by our politicians today. It certainly did not seem like they would accept any foregone conclusions and were keen their voices were heard.
We share the Chair, Mr Donal O'Hagan's view that more schools should have attended. Quite a lot of notice was given, and it is concerning that other schools do not share Friends' foresight. Much work has been done in attempting to make secondary and grammar schools more integrated with each other and collaborating to educate our youth in a more positive direction. Friends' is a glowing example of this. Denying their pupils the chance to participate in such an inclusive, engaging event that focused on citizenship is inexcusable. Hopefully the schools that declined to participate who were geographically less than 10 minutes by foot away have very good reasons for not attending.
Once more we would like to thank all our speakers, Anna Lo, Ross Brown, Basil McCrea, Sammy Wilson and Niall Bakewell for their attendance and Friends, in particular Mr J Artt and Mrs E Dickson as well as the Eco Committee and Mr Brendan Corr for making this flagship event such a success.
More information on the debate, tweets from the event itself and further information may be sought at , @lvgreens on twitter and . 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Statement from the DoE on Fracking