New leaders, new political programme and new MEPs(?) – UK Green news round up week 11
Green Party in Northern Ireland elect new Deputy Leader
Last Sunday, the Green Party in Northern Ireland turned a page in its history. The party elected Malachai O’Hara as its new Deputy Leader. O’Hara was previously the party’s North Belfast rep, and has been an active campaigner on LGBTIQA+ issues.
Speaking on his election, O’hara said:
I am proud to take on the role as Green Party Deputy Leader, supporting Clare Bailey MLA. Clare has brought new energy to the party since she took up the leadership mantle – there is a real enthusiasm amongst party members and supporters.
Our focus is on the local government elections in May and we stand a real chance of seeing new Green Party councillors step up on behalf of their local communities.
Clare and the party are also focused on tackling the really big challenges out there – catastrophic climate change, Brexit and lack of progress on equality issues here in Northern Ireland.
Green Party of England and Wales launch local election political programme
May 2 is fast approaching, and with it local elections in England. In light of this, the Green Party of England and Wales has launched its local election political programme. Titled ‘Unleashing the Power of Local’, the programme covers a wide range of issues, but prioritises opposing austerity, strengthening local democracy and fighting climate change.
Commitments made in the document include:
- Introducing new methods of participatory democracy at a local council level.
- Replacing the ‘cabinet’ system of local government with a committee system, in which politicians of all parties are involved in decision making.
The programme also describes what Green councillors have already achieved, such as prohibiting fracking and preserving green spaces.
Its launch comes alongside manifestos being produced at a local such as that of Brighton & Hove Green Party.
Andy Wightman calls for public land registry in Scotland
Green MSP Andy Wightman this week launched a scathing attack on the lack of transparency around land ownership in Scotland. In doing so, he renewed his calls for a public land registry in Scotland. Wightman, a longstanding land campaigner issued the call after a debate on land ownership in the Scottish parliament.
It is something of a contradiction that Scotland has the oldest national public register of land, yet today it has a system of land registration and land information that is poor by international standards and where it is next to impossible to obtain critical information easily and quickly.
For far too long, the people of Scotland have been unable to find out information about who owns their country and about the value and use of land and property.
Caroline Lucas slams spring statement for failing to take climate change seriously
On March 13, Philip Hammond delivered his Spring Statement – the moment the government announces new spending measures. As expected, it wasn’t warmly received by Greens.
Green MP Caroline Lucas hit out at Philip Hammond for failing to take climate change seriously. She said:
The Chancellor’s statement was littered with contradictions. He announced energy efficiency standards for new homes, which his party scrapped in 2015. He wants travel providers to offer carbon offsets, while he builds new runways. And he paid lip service to biodiversity, without mentioning his devastating cuts to Natural England.
If this government was serious about securing our futures, this would have been a climate emergency Spring Statement. The Chancellor would have launched a Green New Deal, announcing unprecedented investment to create hundreds of thousands of green jobs and supporting local authorities to transform local energy and transport networks.
Now is not the time for reviews and obfuscation – now is the time to transform our economy so it restores the natural world, instead of commodifying and consuming it.
Sian Berry condemns DEFRA for using internal flights
The treasury wasn’t the only government department on the receiving end of Green ire this week though. DEFRA – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs also came under fire.
After news of extensive use of internal flights by DEFRA staff emerged, Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry condemned the department. She said:
The rank hypocrisy of being responsible for the climate while at the same time flying around the UK for journeys clearly reachable by public transport is sadly no surprise from this Government.
Her criticism came upon the revelations that 716 domestic flights were taken by DEFRA officials last year, costing over £60,000.
Greens begin selecting candidates for potential European Parliament elections
Parliament’s impasse over Brexit continued this week, as Theresa May once gain failed to get her deal passed. What did pass though was a motion calling for Article 50 – and subsequently Brexit – to be delayed.
While this was going on, the Greens began selecting candidates for potential European Parliament elections that the UK could end up participating in.
Bright Green will be covering these selection processes. You can see our coverage of the selection for London here.
Clare Bailey calls for independent process to tackle legacy of the Troubles
On March 14, it was announced that one soldier would face charges for his involvement in Bloody Sunday – when fourteen people were murdered by the British army at a civil rights march in Derry in 1972. The decision to charge just one soldier is highly controversial.
Responding to this, Green Party in Northern Ireland leader called for a truly independent process to tackle the legacy of the Troubles. She said:
The many people bereaved and affected by Bloody Sunday deserve access to justice after decades of denial.
The judicial process must be allowed to run its course without political interference or pressure from any source.
There are thousands of people affected by the conflict right across these islands and indeed beyond. Many haven’t had any sense of justice or truth recovery and many have died with unanswered questions exacerbating deep trauma.
The political process has failed these people across the decades. Politicians have not been up to the job of delivering a process for dealing with the legacy of our past.
That’s why I reiterate the call for a comprehensive and independent process for dealing with the legacy of our past.
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