Saturday, 5 September 2015

LVGP gets its own Guerillas!

Did you spot our volunteers picking litter at the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival? Or along the Lagan Towpath?

Lagan Valley Green Party - cleaning up
They are part of a new scheme by the Lagan Valley Green Party. Our members wanted to do something to make our community better, and decided on litter picking and street cleaning as the response from the council has been lacklustre in recent times.

Not all the rubbish was recyclable, but at least it was collected on the day and put in its proper place - the bin.

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council rubbish collection has been hit or miss in certain areas.

So, with that, the group supplied the basic equipment to turn each Greenie into an autonomous Litter Picking Unit - or a Guerilla Picker! Who knows where they'll be next?

They are quite friendly so do have a chat if you see one of us out and about in our yellow Hi-vis jacket. We'll be happy to give you more info on our work, and even might pick litter some place you think needs it.

This isn't a one off or a photo opportunity. We are here to stay and help clean up the grot!

Want to help? Email jonathan @ laganvalleygreens .com (remove spaces) and let us know.

Could this be the first time the volunteers associated with a political party have made life better in NI?

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Greens commend Cllr McCarthy for taking on criminal law reform

We were surprised at the bravery of Cllr Jonny McCarthy in taking on such a controversial topic. He is proving himself to be a great representative for the people of Lisburn who want positive change – and sadly becoming a man alone because of it.

We believe Johnny is a good example of a properly moral politician – taking on issues like this that are usually avoided by elected politicians who care more about career prospects than doing what is right. His views that laws on cannabis consumption need modernized are echoed by many organizations, such as Transform, and other charities. However, this doesn’t mean we think no harm can come from the usage of cannabis. Like the usage of all drugs, including alcohol and prescribed antidepressants, there are dark sides. Some may become addicted or suffer injury as a result of intoxication. However there are some things that new thinking can do something about, rather than propping up a system that clearly doesn’t work to eliminate drug usage from our society. Things like regulated legalization work by taking cannabis out of the black market and the hands of criminal gangs. We could further receive tax revenue from the legal - but controlled – sale, which would go some way to paying for the damage drug consumption does to our society.  Users who require medical help and are sick rather than criminals– and if threat of prosecution was removed, they would find this help easier to obtain. Sending them to jail is a waste of resources and ineffective, and runs the risk of committing them to further criminality due to having a conviction that would put prospective employers well off them.
Currently none of these things happen. These measures we have outlined are realistic, borne out by good practice in other countries and through research, do not glamourize or promote recreational drug use and indeed take something back to lessen the heavy cost our society pays. So well done to Johnny McCarthy for shining a light in place where rhetoric, bias and political laziness have ruled the day. Keep up the good work Johnny. To find out more about common sense and innovative green approaches to thorny issues like this, please check

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Lagan Valley Greens - who are we?

We are the local group of the Green Party of Northern Ireland (GPNI).

The Green Party stands for:

  • non-violence
  • grassroots democracy
  • a sustainable and fair future for us all. 

We want the whole of Lagan Valley to be as

  •  clean 
  • beautiful 
  • successful
  •  vibrant
  •  and open to the outside world as it can be. 

If you are interested in progressive politics then you are very welcome to join us as we meet Last Friday of the Month in Azora Healthfoods and cafe located in Hillsborough town centre.

Please check our facebook google plus and twitter for up to date info on meetings.

Some of the things we care about include:

  • Sensible usage of Green Space. So we can grow and relax in the beauty of our natural spaces rather than seethe in endless traffic jams! 
  •  LGBT inclusion and combating prejudice. Ensuring all our residents - friends and relatives - are taking the part they deserve in our local life. Life is better together. 
  • The social economy. Success through addressing peoples needs rather than just relying on fly by night businesses or letting the town centre rot. 
  • Cycling and sustainable transport. For health and low congestion.
  • Non-sectarianism and addressing racism. To ensure Lagan Valley leads the way in happiness and peacefulness.
  • A healthy local economy with proper civic planning. So we all benefit from the successes of local business. 
As progressives there are many things which we care about, We are open to any new and interesting ways of addressing our needs in Lagan Valley. 

Come along and see what it is all about!

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: