Malachai O'Hara

The Green Party Northern Ireland (GPNI) has a new leader. Belfast City Councillor Mal O’Hara will be replacing former MLA Clare Bailey as the party’s leader. O’hara has served as the party’s deputy leader since 2019.

The GPNI rulebook requires a leadership election to take place after each election to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Bailey decided not to stand in the election, and O’Hara was elected unopposed.

Bailey lost her seat in the 2022 Stormont elections, in which the Greens lost all their representation in the Assembly.

A party spokesperson said, “We are delighted to announce that Councillor Mal O’Hara has been selected as the new leader of the party.  We want to thank Clare Bailey for her leadership of the party over the last few years. Clare led us to record council elections, led our Assembly team in making two pieces of law and forced the NI Executive to finally pass climate legislation for Northern Ireland.”

O’Hara becomes the first openly gay leader of a major political party in the north of Ireland.

Speaking on his election, O’Hara said, “I am honoured to have been chosen as the new leader by the party.  We Greens have always been the vanguard of change. Greens were right on marriage and abortion. We have always been right on the environment. It is welcome that others have followed us and are increasingly adopting those positions.

He continued, “Today, Northern Ireland faces many challenges; Cost of living, housing, mental health, reconciliation and of course the climate and biodiversity crises. I look forward to offering green solutions to these challenges and am determined that the party will bounce back stronger than ever. It is time for the next generation of activists to step up and offer a vision of a fairer world and a fairer Northern Ireland.”

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