Saturday, 15 September 2012

Green MLA says Executive must capitalise on growth of Green Tech Sector

Green MLA Steven Agnew is demanding that Executive take the maximum economic opportunities afforded by the ‘Green Economy’.

Speaking after today’s ETI Committee meeting, where a letter from the Construction Employer’s Federation expressing its member’s ‘dismay’ at the effective scrapping of the Green New Deal (GND) was presented, the North Down MLA said: “Local companies and large business federations recognise the economic benefits the Green New Deal would have provided.

“The Executive now needs to take urgent action and re-consider its ill-conceived scrapping of the Green New Deal retrofit proposals.

“By deciding to re-directed the funds set aside for the Green New Deal, DSD Minister Nelson McCausland has effectively ignored the considerable economic advantages the GND would have brought to Northern Ireland as a whole and to individual householders.

“The Construction Employers Federation represents around 1000 construction companies in Northern Ireland and it was dismayed at the scrapping of the GND as it saw it as an opportunity for quickly providing significant employment through retro-fitting insulation in old housing stock and the construction of new homes.

“It would have also reduced fuel poverty putting more money in the pockets of hard-pressed families and individuals therefore creating a multiplier effect for our local economy and stimulating broader economic growth.

“The decision to scrap the Green New was wrong and we need urgent action to reverse that decision before the opportunity to capitalise on the benefits of the GND are lost.

“The green economy is delivering more jobs in Northern Ireland than the motor trade, financial services sector and telecommunications combined.

“While the UK's general economy is predicted only to return to 2007 levels by 2014, the green economy is tipped to grow by 40% in that time.

“There is real potential for the Green Economy in Northern Ireland but not enough is being done at an Executive level to harness that and to capitalise on it.”

Friday, 14 September 2012

Greens question value of giving Orange Order Freedom of City

Following a recent Lisburn City Council motion to grant the Orange Order the freedom of the city, the Lagan Valley Greens are questioning the value of this proposal, as brought forward by Councillor Paul Givan.

The Green Party in Northern Ireland is the only party that has not been formed in response to the religious divide or the troubles. The Green Party has no agenda to promote the interests of one community over another. This means it is the only party that is able to see the motion to grant the Freedom of the City of Lisburn to the Orange Order for what it really is - a poorly timed waste of precious council money and resources at a time when most families, businesses and individuals are feeling the pinch from the more pressing concerns of the economy. It seems like pointless politics.

Serious questions must be answered. How much time and money has already been spent debating this issue? What would the cost be of staging a gala event should the bid be successful? Is this something that the Orange Order itself welcomes, given the level of controversy it has already generated?

Lisburn does not need this kind of PR for its people, and for its businesses that attract custom from all across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Lisburn should not be seen as the last bastion of the deadlocked days of the past.

Any gesture of granting the Freedom of the City should reflect the kind of city that the council has promoted in its slogans - to make Lisburn a "city for life". If the real aim is to honour an organisations that have helped the community, why not honour Lisburn’s healthcare workers, voluntary groups and charities which have done so much to enrich the community? Lisburn’s Lagan Valley also has a rich history of great and philanthropic individuals to celebrate, such as Professor Frank Pantridge.

This controversial move, timed as it was to coincide with yet more parade related unrest, seem all the more illogical. The Green Party in Northern Ireland is firmly against a return to the days of single issue politics. Everyone is welcome to peaceably express their cultural identity, but this motion does not seem to offer much to the Orange Order, or the people of Lisburn, except bad publicity. We cannot afford the costs of what seems to be a naive attempt at increasing political clout.