On April 21st, the Green Party Northern Ireland’s leader Clare Bailey said it was time for Stormont to move beyond the “polarized politics of the past” by electing the Greens in the upcoming Assembly election. The new green platform stressed healthcare as its top priority next to climate change and education.
The Green Party said the health service is being “held together by underpaid workers who are stretched to the limit” while reform strategies remain stagnant due to inaction from the federal government. The Greens want to work with the sector to “identify priority reforms” while opposing cuts to frontline services and resisting any further outsourcing or privatization. The Greens also want to retain free prescriptions for all and called for the full commissioning of abortion services. Lastly, the party wants drug addiction to be treated as a health issue by advocating for the decriminalizing of drugs.
The Greens stated the segregation of pupils in Northern Ireland’s education system is “unsustainable if we want to build a more integrated society.” Ending academic selection and ensuring all children have access to integrated education are among the party’s main priorities. They want to increase investment in early years education, as well as raise the school starting age to six years old in line with other European countries. Additionally, the Greens believe there should also be mandatory, comprehensive and inclusive relationships and sexuality education in schools.
The Green Party said climate change is the “biggest crisis facing humanity and our planet” and described Northern Ireland’s environmental record as “shameful.” They pressed for the establishment of an independent Environmental Protection Agency – a pledge within the New Decade, New Approach which restored Stormont power-sharing in 2020. An overhaul of planning legislation is among the party’s key priorities to make it “fit for purpose,” including the introduction of equal rights of appeal. Lastly, the party pledged to increase the overall planting of trees to 2,500 hectares a year by 2035. They also want improved tree preservation by creating automatic protection of trees.
The Greens concluded their presentation discussing housing, where they stated that rent control should be introduced in Northern Ireland as it has been in many other European countries.