Wednesday 23 November 2011

Westminster fails older people in Northern Ireland

On Tuesday evening our MPs proposed a motion in the House of Commons for the UK government to reverse its decision over cuts to winter fuel payments to older people. Payments will be reduced by £100 to over 80s and £50 to over 60s.

Fuel poverty, where households have to spend over 10% of their income heating their home, is a serious issue here and cutting the payments will lead to unneccessary suffering. Many older people have to choose whether to eat or heat their home in winter.

The facts are stark - in Northern Ireland 44% of older people are suffering from fuel poverty (2009 survey) whereas in England the figure is 15% of older people (2010 survey).

205 MPs voted for the motion, including many of our own Northern Ireland MPs and Labour MPs. Shockingly 280 MPs voted against the motion - it seems older people in Northern Ireland are not a priority for them. Pensions Minister Steve Webb appeared unmoved by the plight suggesting the cuts were "less than a pound a week".

Let us know what you think on this serious issue. Contact your local MLAs, write to Owen Paterson MP, David Cameron PM and Nick Clegg DPM. Making your voice heard will help.

Contact info:

Monday 21 November 2011

The death penalty debate should be relegated to history

The Green Party notes with grave concern the actions of Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and six DUP colleagues in supporting an early day motion at Westminster in respect of the re-introduction of the death penalty.

The entire direction of international human and civil rights law is towards the abolition of the death penalty. In a time of economic crisis it is astounding that DUP MPs believe the matter is worthy of debate. 

The death penalty is a cruel anachronism which should be relegated to history. There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty acts as deterrent to serious crime, particularly one would assume, for those seeking 'martyrdom' through terrorist acts.

There are many examples of individuals wrongly convicted for serious crimes for which the application of the death penalty would have resulted in terrible mistakes. It is very hard to appeal a conviction from the grave.

Both the UK and Ireland are founder signatories of the Council of Europe. This organisation was set up in the aftermath of World War II to promote co-operation in the field of democracy and human rights.
All Council members are party to the European Convention of Human Rights and the majority of Council members, including the United Kingdom, have ratified a protocol calling for the complete abolition of the death penalty.

It is shameful that a local elected parliamentarian wants to move the UK towards a position closer to that of Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea rather than to be aligned with our European colleagues. I am confident, should a debate take place, that the people and their elected representatives will drop any calls for judicial killing.


Monday 3 October 2011

Eye-catching, but generally silly

It is conference season for the major political parties of the UK. It doesn't need to be said that, in and around conference season, the major parties tend to release a flurry of new, eye-catching policy ideas, and this year has been no exception. The Conservative Party conference is being held this week in Manchester and two of the mooted policies have caught the eye for being distinctly lacking in environmental consideration.

Firstly, Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government minister, seems to have won the day regarding bin collections. Before the general election, Mr Pickles went on record saying that weekly bin collections were a "basic human right". Now, he has announced that new money will be made available to councils to ensure that they can maintain or re-instate their weekly collections.

Well. I am very pleased the government includes ministers who are proponents of human rights. But this one doesn't come as high on my list as suffrage, education and good health care.

In fact, if I were to meet Mr Pickles, I would tell him that, personally, I would prefer my bin not to be taken away weekly. Wheely bins are completely animal-proof and there's no food waste in it anyway (I prefer my food to go into my stomach). In fact, I don't throw much away at all, with the recycling facilities that are available.

So it's not difficult to reduce the amount of waste you generate. And if all the bins contained less waste the bin lorries would have to come less frequently, they would not need to be so large, they would not use as much fuel and they would not fill so many acres of our valuable and beautiful land with our garbage. Everybody wins.

And personally I think there are far better "human rights" the government could be spending our money guaranteeing for us. Please Mr Pickles, build a new school or hospital somewhere instead.

The second government initiative that circulated hours before the Tory conference began was a revised motorway speed limit. Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, has called for consultation on raising the speed limit to 80 mph on our motorways. An 80 mph limit, it was claimed, would bring major economic benefits to the country, and besides the 70 mph limit was outdated.

Well. Perhaps I am outdated myself, or a contrarian, or both. If I were to meet Mr Hammond I would ask him to consider reducing the speed limit on our motorways to 60 mph. A car travelling at 60 mph is less likely to be involved in an accident and any accident is less likely to be fatal. The risks increase with higher speeds. The fuel efficiency of any car falls off a cliff when it is driven faster than 70 mph. An increase to 80 mph, over the millions of journeys that take place on our motorways each year, is going to increase fuel consumption and drive up our nation's collective greenhouse gas emissions.

It has been suggested that an increase in the number of 20 mph zones within towns would offset the environmental damage caused by the 80 mph motorway limit. This is sadly not true. 20 mph zones were introduced as a way of reducing the number of accidents (with some success, it is true). They do nothing for our overall fuel consumption because cars are, in general, as fuel-inefficient at lower speeds as they are at very high speeds. From an environmental point of view, 30 is better than 20.

Besides, various studies have shown that lower speeds on the motorways actually improve traffic flow on congested routes. This is the reason we see variable speed limits on our most congested motorways.

And I would increase enforcement of my lower speed limit as well.

So I would call on the Tories to avoid these unnecessary populist measures. Think more deeply - perhaps there are votes to be won by taking a more radical line on such issues. A lot of people care for the environment these days.

What is going on here? Are these issues part of traditional Tory dogma? No, of course not. These are populist measures, aimed at winning a quick headline and a few cheap votes. What happened to the idea of the "greenest government ever"?

And finally, I suspect such announcements are designed to distract attention from the Tories' other, somewhat dangerous and damaging policies. Yes, George Osborne, your cuts are still wrong. And, I suspect, they are designed to distract us from the fact that there are still very serious differences with their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats. When George Osborne says that taxes will only be cut when the government can afford to do so, it is a political statement, not an economic one. Abolition of the 50% tax rate will create divisions in the cabinet like no other issue that the government has faced so far in its 18 month lifetime. The government may find tax cuts difficult to finance, but they would dearly love to do it. The real problem is that, with the Liberal Democrats prepared to fight any tax cut for the rich, what they really cannot afford is the trouble this will bring around the cabinet table.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

It's The Economy, Stupid

The riots in London and other cities across the UK are to be condemned. We are witnessing nothing but criminality and stupidity. May those responsible be caught and punished severely for their crimes.

But it is no coincidence that the riots are occurring against the backdrop of economic austerity, even despair.

Since the coalition government came to power last year, we have seen several violent demonstrations by students, strikes, half a million people on the streets in a trades union rally, and now the biggest display of civil disobedience in several decades. The common theme linking all of these events is the cuts, the UK government's high-risk strategy to reduce its budget deficit at break-neck speed.

The demonstration that turned to a riot in Tottenham on Saturday night was initially a protest at the police's shooting of one man. There are undoubtedly still problems with the Metropolitan Police's general relationship with certain areas and certain populations within London. Stop and search is still a big issue in the eyes of some communities.

Since then, however, the question has moved on. What causes hundreds of youths to come out onto the streets each night, to set fire to local shops, to loot and ransack their own neighbourhoods? This was nothing to do with Mark Duggan.

What caused youths to attack police on the streets of Belfast last month, to set fire to a bus, to roll burning cars down the street at police lines? This was nothing to do with Orange Order marches or uniting Ireland.

The answer to both questions: it's the economy, the unemployment, the cuts, the rising cost of living, the inequality of our society.

In the UK, we have now seen decades of rampant consumerism, the nurturing of a way of life: buying more and more stuff on ever more credit. We have been taught by successive political parties that economic consumer-driven growth was a panacea, a goal more important than any other. And in the past fourteen months, we have seen policies that are already exacerbating the problems of deprivation and inequality in our society.

The front page stories are all about the violence, the skirmishes with police and the burning buildings. But the real story is the deeply divided and broken society in which we live, and that we will not see an end to these scenes unless we understand and tackle the context in which they have been allowed to arise.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Statement on Lagan Valley Hospital’s reduced A&E service

The recent reduction in opening hours of the A&E department at Lagan Valley Hospital, by the South Eastern Health Trust ‘due to a shortage of medical staff’¹, is of serious concern for the greater Lisburn area and part of a worrying trend of cuts in acute care in Northern Ireland.

The Lagan Valley Green Party welcomes the efforts from across the community and political spectrum in support of 24 hour A&E provision at Lagan Valley Hospital.

Chairperson Conor Quinn stated, “It is vital that the cross-party efforts on Lisburn City Council are maintained to ensure that the reduced hours A&E provision at Lagan Valley is only temporary. The Green Party will continue to fight for the protection of local services, in particular emergency health care.”

Sunday 24 July 2011

Commentary on recent news

Phone hacking

Lately the news has been filled with atrocious stories about phone hacking of crime victims. The journalists and investigators involved took their work to a new low level of depravity. A free press is good for our nation and for holding government and corporates to account but in this case News International proves the media also need to be held to account.

Prime Minister David Cameron has evaded the hard questions for now but it is yet another lesson for politicians to choose their friends and employees wisely.


On a more environmental note, it was reported that badgers may be culled in Northern Ireland. It is thought they threaten cattle with bovine TB. However in Wales this has been postponed pending a scientific study.

We believe badgers should be protected and other means sought to protect livestock. Vaccination, testing, improved bio-security and controls on the movement of cattle are better ways of reducing the cases of bovine TB in cattle.

How would a badger cull affect the balance of our local ecosystem?

Plastic bags

A plastic bag tax is being proposed for Northern Ireland. Alex Attwood, Environment Minister, has put this out for consultation to find out how much consumers should pay.

Dr John Barry, lecturer at Queen's University and Green Party spokesman has stated, "Introducing this tax is only following suit after its success in the Republic in terms of reducing plastic bad useage and spending the money raised on environment issues."

We are in favour of this tax. It works for M&S and Lidl and we would encourage you to email your comments to Alex Attwood via

As always we would love to hear from you. Add your comments below or tweet us @lvgreens.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Growing Greens in Lagan Valley

Following on from the recent electoral success of the Green Party leader, Steven Agnew MLA in North Down, the local Greens in Lagan Valley are showing signs of growth.

At their AGM meeting held in Bridge Community Centre, Lisburn, on Tuesday 28 June, new members were introduced and a vote taken to transform the local group into a more effective constituency group for Lagan Valley. Positions were also appointed for Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and Communications Officer.

Conor Quinn, who has been re-elected Chair said: "As a result of our increasing membership the Lagan Valley Greens have recently reconstituted as a full constituency group within the party”.

“We were delighted with the response on the doorsteps during the recent elections. It is clear there is an appetite for new, progressive politics in Lagan Valley”.

Local environmental issues were also discussed at the AGM, including the proposed development of John Lewis with 20 smaller retail units at Sprucefield, the proposed waste energy plants at Glenavy and Moira Road, the wind turbine at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club, and the allotments at Killeaton Playing Fields.

Lagan Valley Greens’ members come from different backgrounds, careers and age groups. Prospective members don’t need to be ecologists or environmental perfectionists to join. All that is needed is an interest in improving life for people and the planet.

As the Green Party believes in clean politics, it only accepts donations from individuals and never from corporates. This sets it apart from all other mainstream political parties and prevents influence from companies wishing to promote their own commercial interests.

The Lagan Valley constituency covers a wide area encompassing the City of Lisburn, Hillsborough, Dromore, Moira and parts of Dunmurry. To find out more about the Lagan Valley Greens visit or call 07717 717755.

Monday 27 June 2011

Lagan Valley Greens AGM

The 2011 AGM of the Lagan Valley Green Party will be held at 7.30pm on Tuesday 28th June in the Hamilton Room, Bridge Community Centre Lisburn.

The big question which will before us is to consider is whether we wish to upgrade to full Constituency Group status from Local Group status. We now have 13 paid up members (minimum for Constituency Group is 10). We do however need to fill the Secretary position to comply with Rules and Procedures.

All officer positions are open for election at this AGM. Conor Quinn will be standing for Chair/Convenor and Ciara Daly will be putting herself forward for Treasurer. Members can put themselves forward for ANY of the officer positions but 
members interested in the Secretary position are particularly welcome.

Members in probation (first 6 months) may stand for officer positions but may not vote in the election or any other motion. 2010 members can renew at the AGM and retain full voting rights.

I encourage all members to consider setting up a standing order as we build again for the next elections. You can find the standing order form here.

Monday 2 May 2011

Assassination of Osama bin Laden

Seven reasons the assassination of Osama bin Laden might prove to be a mistake:
  • The Green Party believes the death penalty is wrong.
  • Bin Laden should have been captured and brought to trial under international law.
  • If questioned, he might have been a source of valuable information.
  • Most of Al Qaeda's operations will continue as they would have done anyway. The organisation has always operated with regional leaders and a highly distributed network.
  • Bin Laden himself was no longer a threat to world security.
  • The assassination may well inflame tensions within the Arab world and beyond. Bin Laden may become a martyr in the minds of many people in the Islamic world.
  • In the long run, it may well end up making the problem of organised terrorism carried out in the name of Islam worse, not better. The chances of reprisal attacks has to be high.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Green Party will Protect Public Services

Green Party Lagan Valley candidate Conor Quinn;
Green Party NI Leader Steven Agnew;
Green Party Lisburn City Council candidate Luke Robinson.
The Green Party has emphasised that the protection of local, public services is a key element of its Assembly Manifesto. Speaking at the party’s manifesto launch Lagan Valley Green Party Candidate, Conor Quinn, stated that health and education would be protected under the Green Party’s plans. “The Assembly has limited revenue raising powers so this election campaign is about the tough choices that must be made in the context of the current budgetary cuts,” explained Mr Quinn. “The Green Party will protect the health budget and ensure that there is no rise in university fees. We have taken a critical look at the allocation for new roads projects and believe £600m can be released over the next four years, while still protecting the roads maintenance budget. The additional resources will also be used to fund a Northern Ireland insulation scheme under our green jobs programme.”

Mr Quinn also outlined what he believes makes the Green Party different from other political parties: “Green politics is clean politics. We are the only party that does not take donations from companies and we publish all our personal donors on our website. Stormont is not working, but a Green MLA in the Assembly will work for reform, honest politics and transparency. Only the Green Party has a vision for a fairer and sustainable Northern Ireland,” he concluded.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Conor Quinn Discusses Green Party Manifesto

Conor Quinn talks to Alan from the famous Alan in Belfast blogsite.

Conor Quinn, Green Party #ae11 #le11 #lagv11 from Alan in Belfast on Vimeo.

The full blog article can be found on Slugger O'Toole.

Further coverage of the manifesto launch can be found on the BBCUTV, and the Belfast Telegraph websites.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Green Party NI Launches Manifesto: Economy for People and Planet

The Green Party in Northern Ireland today launched its manifesto ahead of next month’s Assembly and Council elections.

The party is fielding 22 candidates in total, including six Assembly candidates, in North Down, South Down, East Belfast, South Belfast, Lagan Valley and East Antrim.

The key message in the campaign is ‘Economy for People and Planet’ which encompasses the party’s desire to champion policies which are benchmarked against those three key areas.

Green Party Leader and North Down Assembly candidate Steven Agnew said: “Resources are stretched and we have to prioritise spending on areas that meet a number of policy objectives.

“There is no sense in squandering money on projects that may be good economically but environmentally damaging or pushing environmental policies that are not good for people. The Green Party benchmarks all its policies on whether they are good for the economy, good for people and good for the environment.

“In the last Assembly with one MLA the Green Party was able to get cross-party support for the ambitious Green New Deal programme.  If fully implemented the Green New Deal will provide thousands of jobs while helping to tackle fuel poverty and combat climate change.

“It is essential that there is a Green Party presence in the next Assembly to ensure the vision of the Green New Deal is realised.

“The Green Party did not support the cuts budget as it will see our public sector decimated and result in massive job losses across the public sector.

“We will continue to defend vital public services and oppose plans to increase fees for students that would see our young people burdened with crippling debt – an unacceptable price for university education which benefits our whole society.

“In this manifesto we outline how we can minimise the impact of the cuts and target investment to drive job creation in Northern Ireland.”

In the manifesto, the Green Party in Northern Ireland is focusing on the grass-roots issues that are currently dominating the political agenda, outlining strategies for the economy, health, education, transport, food and agriculture and political reform as well as environmental concerns.

“The Green Party enters these elections in better shape than ever having matured and developed with experience in the Assembly.  Our European election result showed our vote had trebled in the space of five years.  In these elections we are looking to translate that growth of support into seats in the Assembly and in local councils,” continued Mr Agnew.

“We have young candidates that can bring a breath of fresh air to Northern Ireland politics and the experience and expertise of Green Parties across the globe to draw upon.

“While others dwell in the past, it is the Green Party that has the vision for a brighter future for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Monday 11 April 2011

Jobs Central to Greens' Election Message

Lagan Valley Green Party Candidate for the Assembly Election, Conor Quinn, has highlighted that job creation is central to the Green Party’s policies. “The Green Party was the first political party to champion the concept of a Green New Deal for Northern Ireland” explained Mr Quinn. “The Green New Deal is about creating employment through the opportunities afforded by renewable energy technologies, promotion of local food and eco-tourism. Up to 50,000 jobs could be created in Northern Ireland with a concerted effort by the new Executive in these areas. An example of a specific programme would a Northern Ireland home insulation scheme. This would see all of Northern Ireland’s social and private housing stock upgraded to the latest standards of cavity wall, loft and window insulation. Such a scheme would create jobs and help householders reduce their energy bills. The spin-off benefits for improved health and the reduction in fuel poverty are obvious. This is exactly what the Green Party is about; we believe that environmental, social and economic factors are linked. Investment in a Green New Deal for Northern Ireland is a win-win opportunity for our people, the economy and the environment and I will promote it vigorously if elected to the Assembly.”

Saturday 9 April 2011

Northern Ireland stares into the abyss again

Northern Ireland stares into the abyss again today. A huge bomb was discovered in a van beneath a fly-over on the A1 outside Newry yesterday. Police suspect the device was intended for a town centre somewhere and that, if it had reached its destination, it could have exploded with all the deadly force of the Omagh bomb 13 years ago. So tonight, we are all thankful for good police work and extremely lucky.

Those responsible for the device have not yet come forward. Neither has anybody declared responsibility for the murder of PC Ronan Kerr earlier this week, although 3 people have been arrested in relation to that crime.

Dissident Republicans are widely being blamed and there are a few of these groups that could have been responsible. Whoever it was, there seems to be no indication they have listened to the public outpouring of horror and condemnation that followed the murder of the policeman. Their campaign goes on, and we can probably expect it to intensify as the election approaches and the Queen prepares to visit Dublin in May.

Although the bomb failed to reach its destination, it did its job in other ways: it has struck fear into Northern Ireland yet again. The silence of these ruthless killers adds a new dimension to the terror they are trying to instil. In the old days of the IRA, the people of Northern Ireland knew who they were dealing with. But we are now faced with some menacing rogue element that listens to nobody, talks to nobody, just kills. We don't know who they are, what they are trying to achieve, how much ammunition they have and what they are capable of. The discovery of a huge arms cache, including machine guns, was linked to one of the arrests in the week. The scale of the find indicates that there is either some source of weaponry the terrorists are using abroad, or that the IRA did not decommision all of their weapons as promised.

At the moment, we live in great uncertainty and, it seems, we are all potential victims.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Lagan Valley Greens Campaign for Steven Agnew in North Down

The Lagan Valley Greens were out on the campaign trail on Saturday morning, helping out in the Seahill area of Holywood, which is a part of the North Down constituency for the Stormont Assembly.

Steven Agnew, leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland, will be standing in this constituency, hoping to succeed Green Party MLA Brian Wilson, who is standing down at the election on 5th May.

It was great to see Peter Emerson, one of the founding fathers of the Green movement, helping out on the campaign trail. In 1981 he was a co-founder of the Ecology Party, the forerunner for today's Green Party.

Left to right: Luke Robinson (Lagan Valley Greens), Peter Emerson, Laura Thompson, Steven Agnew, Conor Quinn (Lagan Valley Greens)
Also there, but not in the picture: Paul Roberts, Joanne Dunlop

Sunday 3 April 2011

There are no words low enough to describe the murderers of PC Ronan Kerr, killed by a bomb placed underneath his car yesterday in Omagh.

We can only hope that whoever was responsible is found and brought to account for their actions very rapidly.

If, by some small chance, anybody with responsibility should read this, let us tell you that this act will achieve nothing. It speaks for nobody in Northern Ireland. In fact, it will serve only to strengthen the resolve of the people who work tirelessly for peace and democracy in this country.

Our sympathy goes to those, especially his family, who knew and loved the man.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Lagan Valley Greens Kick Off Carbon Neutral Election Campaign

Conor Quinn hands in election papers and kicks off the Carbon Neutral Election Campaign

Conor Quinn of the Lagan Valley Green Party presented his candidacy papers for the Stormont Assembly Election at Banbridge Electoral Office early this morning.

Mr Quinn is the Green Party candidate in Lagan Valley constituency for the forthcoming Assembly Election.

The Greens intend this to be the first "carbon neutral" campaign in Lagan Valley. Mr Quinn said "Our election leaflets will be printed on recycled paper. The majority of our election posters will be reused from previous campaigns. And our election vehicle is a petrol/electric hybrid car. Any minimal impact the campaign does have on the environment, we will offset via the carbon offsetting company Clear, which has been approved by the UK government's Department of Energy and Climate Change."

"We are delighted to get our papers in early" Mr Quinn said. "Our eagerness to be formally nominated is matched by our enthusiasm  to offer the electorate a real alternative to the old, established parties in Northern Ireland politics."

The Assembly Election will take place on Thursday 5th May, alongside the local council elections and the referendum on the Alternative Vote for future Westminster elections.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Welcome to the new Lagan Valley Greens website!
Hope you like the new look.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Table Quiz at Lisburn Rugby Club

A group of 30 gathered at Lisburn Rugby Club on 28th January making six teams to take part in the table quiz organised by Lagan Valley Greens. The winning team were from South Belfast.
The event and the raffle raised £250 for the Lagan Valley Greens’ forthcoming election campaigns. Just as importantly, everybody seemed to have a good time.

Monday 24 January 2011

Lagan Valley Greens Pub Quiz

The Lagan Valley Greens are hosting a pub quiz at Lisburn Rugby Club at 8pm on Friday 28th January.
Entry is £5 per person and teams can be a maximum of six.
We would welcome any unwanted Christmas presents for quiz and raffle prizes. Please e-mail .
Please support our fundraising efforts. Proceeds will be used to support our two local election candidates in May’s elections.
Help us make history by delivering the first Green representatives to Lisburn City Council ! We look forward to seeing you on the night.
Direction to Lisburn Rugby Club.
Lisburn Rugby Football Club
71 Eglantine Road
BT27 5RQ