Last week will go down as a proud and historic day for the Green Party

From Steven Agnew’s Debate NI column, 26 August 2014.

Thursday May 22, 2014 will go down as a proud and historic day for the Green Party in Northern Ireland.

In doubling its number of councillors, the Party has secured its first seat on Belfast City Council and seen the first group of Green councillors being elected to a single council in Northern Ireland.

If political success is based on numbers then we did very well. If it is judged on goodwill and raising our profile as a Party, then we did even better.

The Green Party NI had an electoral strategy which we worked to and we achieved our targets. With limited resources we outperformed other parties which had a greater media profile and significant financial backing.

Ross Brown led an exemplary campaign in Ormiston. To get elected on his first time out was a phenomenal achievement and was a testament to his hard work, energy and ability. He was tireless in his knocking on the doors canvassing in his area of East Belfast, and his efforts were duly rewarded by voters.

His appearances on national TV and radio increased the positive perception of the Green Party. However it was in hustings debates where now Councillor Brown showed his true class, often outperforming more experienced politicians.

I am also delighted at the success of the Green Party in the North Down area where we secured three council seats. To now be assisted in my own constituency by councillors Noelle Robinson, Paul Roberts and John Barry is a great boost and will contribute greatly to my work as an MLA.

A special mention must also go to Clare Bailey who narrowly missed out on a seat in the Botanic area of Belfast. With a 9% share of the vote she was bettered only by John Barry in terms of the proportion of votes cast for Green council candidates. Unfortunately it was not enough to secure a seat this time but bodes well for Clare and the Party in the future.

The one disappointment was the loss of Martin Gregg in Castlereagh East. Martin fell victim to the reduction in the number of council seats but the Party will sit with him and plan how we win this back in the next election.

These local council elections were one of the most important of their kind for years. The changes under the local government reform will hand over powers to the council such as planning and the ability to introduce services improving well-being.

I am delighted to have excellent Green Party councillors working towards a better more inclusive society for the common good.

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