Children and young people
Green Politics as about looking to future generations.
Children in Northern Ireland deserve to have the best start in life. Poverty in our society means that many children are not being enabled to reach their full potential. The Green Party wants to prioritise investment in early years provision to ensure equal opportunity for children, which will create a better future for us all.
We believe that families and children must be protected from austerity and afforded support to ensure that they are not disadvantaged. We are calling for access to affordable childcare, no more cuts to children’s services, ending child poverty and for children to be put at the heart of policy and decision-making. This will ensure equal opportunity for children, with the aim of creating a better future for us all.
A full, well-rounded education is one of the most important things we can give our children and young people. Integrated education is fundamental to achieving a less divided society, and recognise that a majority of the public believe that it should be the main model for our education system. We believe it would be better for our society if our children could be educated together in one school, with no differentiation in terms of faith, ability or socio-economic background. The Green Party believes that integrated education should be the norm rather than the exception, so that Northern Ireland can become a less divided society.
The Green Party in Northern Ireland believes that there should be a single publicly funded, secular education system for Northern Ireland. We call on the Education Minister to establish formal transfer and transition arrangements for denominational schools in the move towards such a system. The Green Party is opposed to representation, by right, of faith sectors on the Education Authority.
The Green Party in Northern Ireland believes that academic tests should not be used for the purposes of determining admission to secondary schools. We advocate a system of secondary education based on community centred campuses, ‘Community Colleges’. Ideally, students should attend their local school. In addition to delivering the core subjects of the National Curriculum, Community Colleges will, in co-operation with neighbouring schools and using an area-based approach, access specialist teaching provision in e.g. languages, arts, music, technology and sport.
We believe in a thriving green grassroots economy, where local and environmentally sustainable businesses work, together with the public and third sectors, for the common good.
Northern Ireland has the lowest proportion of people receiving the living wage in the United Kingdom. Low paid workers are disproportionately young and more likely to be female. We believe that paying a living wage injects money back into local economies, is good business and benefits society as well as families. The Green Party campaigns for a real living wage to help lift working people out of poverty. We have introduced Assembly motions calling for the Living Wage and party leader Steven Agnew was made ‘Living Wage Champion’ for Northern Ireland by the Living Wage Foundation, in recognition of his work in this field.
Cutting corporation tax comes at the expense of public services and this cannot be justified, especially at a time of austerity. This policy results in longer hospital waiting lists and a reduction in resources going to schools. The Green Party will put community need over corporate greed and ensure our public services are prioritised.
Wealth inequality and poverty
The levels of poverty in our society continues to increase. The widening gap between rich and poor is a social injustice and exacerbate social issues such as crime. The Green Party acts as champions for the living wage and has consistently opposed welfare cuts, seeing protection of the most vulnerable as the first duty of government.
Properly funded health service
The Green Party believes that good mental and physical health is only possible in the context of a healthy environment and society. We believe that the health service should be free for those citizens who need it and that they should be able to access care in a timely manner. We are calling for health services which place as much emphasis on illness prevention, health promotion and the development of individual and community self-reliance as on the treatment and cure of disease.
The Green Party has been consistent and resolute in campaigning for LGBT equality.
Northern Ireland is one of the only regions in Western Europe that does not recognise same-sex marriage. The Green Party was the first political party to call for equal marriage publicly, and brought the first equal marriage debate to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011. We continue to support LGBTQ groups in challenging political parties and politicians to listen to public opinion on this issue.
The LGBTQ community suffers discrimination in almost every area of our society, from schools to religious institutions. Because of this, LGBTQ people have much higher levels of suicide and self-harm. The Green Party continues to pressure OFMDFM to finish the Sexual Orientation Strategy, which must be robust and clearly indicate a working towards the promotion and liberation of the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland in terms of fair and unhindered employment, education, housing, health services and public life. We also support specific LGBTQ legislation such as the anti-bullying bill and would reform faith teaching in schools to ensure that it is LGBTQ inclusive and does not continue to promote the community in a negative way where identified.
The trans community is among the most discriminated against communities in Northern Ireland through housing, welfare, healthcare, education, services and jobs. We call for greater inclusion and awareness of the trans community in all forms of public life, services and provisions. We support a reform of the gender recognition guidelines in Northern Ireland.
As a socially progressive party, the Green Party recognises that there are deeply ingrained cultural habits and structures that tend to favour men above women, whether consciously or unconsciously. We will push for a far-reaching examination of power structures, networks and relationships across the political and economic spheres to identify and address these.
Northern Ireland’s abortion laws are some of the most regressive in Europe. Women in Northern Ireland are being denied essential healthcare that is available in other regions of the United Kingdom. As a result, vulnerable women in Northern Ireland are having to travel to England for treatment at considerable expense while others are denied the treatment they can’t afford. The Green Party advocates an extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland to ensure equal access to health treatment.
Women continue to be underrepresented in positions of power, whether it is the boardroom or in our politics. This inequality is to the detriment of our society as a whole as well as to women. The Green Party believes that we cannot wait for this situation to change itself, positive action is needed to address this imbalance which is why the Green Party sets a minimum 1/3 female candidates in all multi-seat elections and believes other organisations should take a similar approach.
Ethnic minority rights
Every citizen of Northern Ireland, regardless of their place of birth, should enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other.
Ethnic minority rights
Racial hatred is a blight on our society. Families are living in fear simply because of their race or nationality. The Green Party recognises the benefits of a multi-cultural society and believes we need a much more positive narrative which highlights the benefits that immigration has brought to our economies and our communities.