Saturday, 17 January 2015

Ordinary People Love Bus Lanes

English: Bus Lane on Bath Road in Bristol
Bus lanes are not to blame for congestion.
We reacted with some disbelief at Lisburn's UKIP man wanting rid of bus lanes, blaming them for congestion.

We really shouldn't be surprised - this isn't UKIP’s only silly idea after all.

Anyone who stands at a roadside during rush hour will see with their own eyes it is single occupant cars that cause congestion.

If 1 out of every 2 of these people shared a lift the problem would half overnight.

Northern Ireland is the home of the UK's most congested city, Belfast. Not only is a crawling commute home annoying, burning all that petrol makes the air dirty and more people sick because of it.

Even the smell of the air changes.

Widening roads or adding lanes isn't even a possibility let alone a solution - and it would be very expensive.

Bus lanes allow buses, cycles and motorcycles to whiz easily past as well as being less harsh on our environment. Cars are comfy but too expensive to maintain and feed with petrol for many hard-working people, and there are cheaper and better ways of getting home.

UKIP are plain daft to say otherwise when the evidence is so clear.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Could Paul Givan’s “conscience clause” be used against Christians?

Paul Givan's "Conscience Clause" -
the first "opt in" law in history?
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Former double-jobbing MLA Paul Givan, now chairperson of the Stormont Justice Committee (answerable to minister David Ford), is submitting a clause which would allow exemption from equality legislation on the grounds of “conscience”.

Taking the recent decision against Ashers bakery as his starting point, Mr Givan is keen for us to see this as clearing up a “grey area” that disadvantaged the Christian owner of Ashers.

Regarding this case, although the decision went against the bakery, it would be hard to see exactly what he means, as the bakery hardly lost out despite a decision against it, with the DUP making a big play of flooding their conference with Ashers brand baked goods and countless messages of support.

However, has the ambitious Givan really thought this through?

Firstly, it would create a loophole intentionally, and perhaps create the first ever “opt in” law in modern legal history. Think for example if a loophole was made in law relating to speeding for the owners of powerful cars. Hardly a good idea, is it? It’s basically a scrapping of the whole law. And what about that law?

Originally designed to stop innocent members of the public being discriminated against due to belonging, or being assumed to belong to, a particular group in society. It could be used against the very group Givan claims he is trying to protect.

Think about this one: “No, sorry sir, I refuse to bake you a confirmation cake as this is an (opposing ideology) bakery, and Mr Givan’s law gives me that right”.

Cake baking may not be that serious an affair, but what Givan isn’t telling you is that this would cover ALL aspects of life. It would allow people who do not agree with you, your beliefs or your identity to legally disadvantage you on that basis alone.

The sad fact is that this case is very much a product of Givan’s – and his party’s – own making. By refusing to let churches and religious groups that wished to do so hold marriage ceremonies for same sex couples (such as the non-subscribing Presbyterian Church All Souls in Belfast), Givan has helped create this quagmire. In reality this would have PROTECTED churches’ rights to not hold same sex marriages if it was against their wishes, the perfect balance of rights in that situation, satisfying both camps.

But see this clumsy amendment for what it really is: an attempt to bolster the DUP’s focus group created image as “strong” in the run-up to Westminster elections, which they are worried about due to high profile in-party squabbles and their fumbling of many key issues, welfare reform being a prominent one.

Don’t become a notch on Paul Givan’s career’s bedpost. See through his ill thought out exemption clause and write directly to him letting him know you do not support his amendment as it weakens everyone’s right to be free from discrimination. Keep an eye out for any public consultation that Givan has alluded to on his twitter feed.

The Green Party includes members with a diverse range of faiths and none, united with a  common interest in creating a sustainable and prosperous future for everyone in our country. Find out more at .

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Lagan Valley Green Party supports People’s NHS campaign

In recent years, our local hospital has faced many threats. Lagan Valley’s residents know only too well about the closures of our A&E – but not many will know about one of the biggest so far to our local hospital and indeed the entire health service. It is called the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” – or TTIP for short. It is basically a deal between the USA and EU that allows international corporations to act without hindrance. It is a free trade deal. Since 2012, the NHS has been effectively turned into a marketplace. Big corporations, under TTIP, could bid for all government spending, including for NHS services. TTIP would prioritize the rights of corporations over patient care standards and safety.

You may think that it is only right that the NHS gets a bit of a shake as its standards have slipped in recent years. That may be the case in some places, but TTIP would make this far less likely to happen. TTIP replaces care standards with profit margins. You may think privatization of the NHS is OK- as long as it Is closely regulated, but here is the catch – TTIP is all about de-regulation. We realize there are some people who think free trade is a good idea. The great thing about this campaign is that it is only asking the NHS to be exempt from TTIP, not scrap the whole thing.

This means everyone who values the NHS can sign it no matter what their economic views. The aim of all private industry is to make a profit above all else. This is simply too big a threat to everything we expect from the NHS – standards judged on outcome rather than only low cost, years of experience and above all, open to all regardless of ability to pay. TTIP would also let corporations sue the government if they aren’t getting their way, which would waste a lot more taxpayer’s money. Take the recent decision in China against pharmaceutical giant GSK as a warning of what can go wrong with private business and health.

That’s why we are happy to support the petition and call on David Cameron to use his veto in the EU to make sure we aren’t gambling with our NHS. There is already so much pressure on our health service for many reasons; let’s not deal it the fatal blow. We urge everyone to research the issue for themselves, and sign the petition at We also encourage our colleagues in all parties to get together on this one.

Picture: Lagan Valley Greens members signing the petition in Hillsborough.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Who joins the Green Party?

After an extended period of haranguing across social media, including an odd campaign to blame us, in part, for the intransigence of John Lewis in coming to Lisburn (which we were cautiously in favour of) by no less than Jeffrey Donaldson MLA MP (note the dual mandating - important! Paul Givan MLA also took to twitter to slag us off over this, after we accosted him and the DUP for co-opting).

This is despite the fact we took no part in the decision, never wrote any kind of letter against it and as we have said three lines ago, WE WERE CAUTIOUSLY IN FAVOUR - but not Silly enough to have it at all costs, nor pretend it would pose no threat to the town centre. We don't apologize for supporting local businesses, as all the evidence points to the fact that it is when these flourish the greatest benefit is felt in the local community, as opposed to profits funneling out.

Anyhow, one particular local John Lewis enthusiast took to social media again before the election to say (a) he wouldn't vote for us and after that (b) attack Belfast Green councillor Ross Brown for his opinion that John Lewis should come to Belfast.
Whats that? Disagreement WITHIN a party! Yes, it may surprise you in this bad tempered age where dissent is not tolerated and all party members must agree dogmatically 100% on issues that this isn't a major impasse. Ross has done his own research and came to his own conclusion. We cannot discount his points - but we still retain our own opinions. And guess what! That is OK. We aren't leaving to join UKIP or create Green21 or something like that.

Soon to be former UUP councillor Ronnie Crawford also vented his spleen on the same page - calling us bearded, sandal wearing losers and weirdoes, and sticking the boot in over electoral results.

Sad to say Ronnie, even though our polling wasn't up to the astronomical heights of the DUP, that still accounts for around 600 first preference votes in the Lisburn and Castlereagh supercouncil area - not an insignificant amount. Not only that, but people who have beards and wear sandals are cool now - they are called hipsters, and are generally young, fashionable and have liberal opinions on life. The UUP, and its fellow unionist cadre, do not share this impressive image... suits, belllies and tired old opinions.

Of course there is a debate to be had on wether a bit of banter is acceptable in politics - we don't take the slanging personally, but it did flag up something. Who exactly does join the green party?

Well, we have the youngest profile of MLAs with Steven Agnew being one of the youngest MLAs and by virtue of having only one, our average age is some 20 years under the DUP! We have young, enthusiastic but experienced in terms of life councillor team, currently with 5 on the go - not bad for a small party. Certainly no beards and sandals. Well Councillor John Barry does have a goatee, but that is kept neatly trimmed, and may have played some role in his romping home with 15% of the 1st pref vote in Holywood. No mustaches either Ronnie!

We struggle to get over peoples stereotypes and that is probably our biggest hurdle at the minute. Either, as one "honest" unionist commented, we should ONLY be talking about "Green" issues - whatever that means - and have no opinion on say Welfare Reform, dealing with the past, special needs education etc, or we should be conducting ourselves as super ethical beings from another planet - so no argy bargy, no arguing, no nasty language! But the first means not everyone can connect Green issues with their own lives (however wrong that is!) and they will neither vote nor join, or in the second means people struggle under the belief we would make their lives tougher, or they are not themselves "good" enough to support, join or vote - so it is a lose lose scenario for us.

The truth is, our members are a very diverse bunch - but they share the belief that things may not be ideal, but something CAN be done about it - from environmental issues through to social and economic ones. They are not cynics who believe nothing will help, nor are they social conservatives who wish to keep everything the same as it once was, wether it was working or not. Secondly, they can see the common split between nature and society is false. We are part of it, and what we do with nature has health and social implications beyond what is commonly considered. And it is likely if we care about the environment, we care about people too.

You know what else? We work with anyone of good faith and a positive inetntion for all people of Lisburn. We continually openly address the shortcomings of those in power - and they can't stand it, hence the flak we get. 

Green politics are most guilty of being ideas that are ahead of their time. They are positive, seek positive reform and have something to offer life.

We are grateful to all our supporters but remind them as the summer trouble is close by to consider getting off the bench, getting involved, joining the Green Party - and making a difference. We need all the support we can get, and we need apathetic but moral majority to reclaim the dialogue in mainstream politics. Many are voted in to paraphrase Ronnie, by the truly "weird" - people who have called homosexuality "intrinsically disordered" on record and are soon to retire. They are claiming to speak for you. Do they?

The formation of NI21 proved one thing - an amount of people are ready for something new, despite its horrific ending.

Keep the good work up - join here:

Monday, 23 June 2014

Racism in Lisburn

We have identified racism as a particular problem in areas of Lisburn for over a year now, and warned that if no visible action at a high level was taken, the result would be racist attacks. We have seen 2 polish men last week and just days before that another racist attack on a lone walker on the towpath. 

We have had enough of seeing people attacked randomly because of their background, and ask Lisburn City Council and the shadow councillors for the new Lisburn & Castlereagh super-council to start taking the issue to task. 
Although the police have been doing a their job well, particularly through creating an ongoing province wide initiative to tackle hate crime, we believe the only way racism will be healed in Lisburn is through a local, high level and cross departmental response. 

People need to see that all community leaders say that racism and its associated violence are not appropriate, fair or acceptable and that racist views are challenged by society. We believe that rhetoric over immigration, particularly as a measure to attract votes during the previous election fueled tension. It also helped create the illusion that hostility towards people perceived as different was becoming a legitimate response to discontent with political issues. 

During darker times in Northern Ireland, hostility towards outsiders - and anyone who didn't fit in - became a feature of the landscape. In many ways, racism is one of the nasty relics of these times. 

We believe that Lisburn is enriched by the many people from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, and we have many examples of residents from these demographics who contribute very prominently to our civic life and local economy. 

Violence and this type of crime is disgusting, it damages us all and leaves a stain on the reputation of Lisburn. Although we would love to see an demonstration against racism locally, and commend local band Mojo Fury for taking part in a concert against racism, we believe that visible work needs to be done across the community. 

This starts with education, and ensuring that lessons and assemblies that address racism are given to every child in Lisburn. The council need urgently to chair a discussion on the issue, decide on a local strategy and investigate how each department under the councils' control can tackle the issue. Organizations from local chambers of commerce to residents and community groups as well as churches, schools, the police and healthcare providers need to be part of this discussion. 
Work needs to begin as visibly as possible so that we can put an end to these attacks. 

We believe that if people are presented with truths on the issue, they will not subscribe to racist beliefs and will not act violently towards their neighbors. Racists have used community tensions to further their own agenda in Northern Ireland recently. They will fail in their attempt to isolate our community and undo the progress towards peace we have made. 

Every councillor, every public official and every department has their role to play in ending racism in Lisburn. So much can be done. 

We cannot afford to do nothing. We call on Lisburn's civic leaders to tackle the issue "head on" - and not sit on their hands.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Elections Wrap-Up

We would like to congratulate every new shadow councillor who has gained a seat in the forthcoming Lisburn and Castlereagh council.
We ran 2 candidates in Lisburn South and Downshire West, roughly keeping the percentage we had polled over previous years in these areas. However, this remains relatively low and Castlereagh's Green councillor, Martin Gregg, was unable to keep his seat - a likely victim of the boundary changes.

This year has been a pretty eventful one in terms of politics in Northern Ireland. With a new player on the scene that could claim Lisburn as its heartland, NI21, putting candidates in almost every ward as well as the shadow of Flag protests and the changing of the council boundary looming overhead, it was to prove a tough year to get people to vote for issues that affected them directly in everyday life rather than the distracting, but ever present, campaign for unionist unity.
Added to this is the fact that the very experienced former chair of the Lagan Valley Greens left to join the SDLP and become their candidate in Lisburn South.
Despite this, we were able to run a principled campaign, and have shown that there is an interest in Green politics in Lisburn. We have received many messages of support and thanks, including from other parties. It seems still very difficult for new and smaller parties to poll well in Lisburn, with the TUV and NI21 only managing to get 1 seat each.

We are pleased that the Green party has doubled its seat tally, including our first ever Belfast councillor - narrowly missing out on a second. We see that the Green seat tally in North Down alone has tripled. This shows that Greens in council work effectively and people are happy to increase their presence in line with this.

It is likely that our presence in Lisburn will increase when Ross shows the people of Belfast how committed and effective a councillor he is, letting people see exactly what Green politics are.

We hope that, with a disgusting flare up in hate crime as well as a racist attack very close to the Civic Centre, new councillors prioritize community relations and actively combat this kind of crime, especially now that Lisburn is losing its cross-community areas such as Poleglass and Twinbrook.
We also hope that councillors are able to bulwark and increase funding for initiatives such as the citizen's advice bureau and guidance for families with young people who have special educational needs, as it is likely welfare reform issues will begin to bite harder soon. We also hope that due consideration is given to making the civic centre become more energy efficient, the low paid in council work do not earn less than living wage and that agricultural pollution is finally tackled properly.

At times like these we look to the new, young council to make progress where the previous generations could and have not. We wish them well, and support any councillor who aims to work fairly and hard to ensure that Lisburn is the city it has the potential to be.

Finally, we are hopeful that the hundreds in Lisburn and Castlereagh who gave us 1st preference votes consider joining the Green Party - it is clear we need members to help us work for the sustainable and beautiful borough we can be proud of.
Thanks to all our supporters, the party and the hard working council candidates who bravely put themselves forward.

You can join the Green Party easily by visiting and clicking on the "Join" button.
All are welcome to attend our meetings which we advertise on facebook and twitter (search for "lvgreens") .

We need you to grow the Green Party in Lisburn! 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Lagan Valley candidates for Lisburn / Castlereagh supercouncil elections

The Lagan Valley Green Party are running 2 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.

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.