The Green Party in Northern Ireland, is working towards a society which values local empowerment, where the diversity of all human and natural life is respected and where decisions are made compassionately, with integrity, and at the most effective, community-based level of democracy.
The Good Friday Agreement, and the joint referenda which gave it effect, provided for the balanced constitutional change which the Green Party has campaigned for since its foundation. We remain whole-<>heartedly in support of it. It represents the best, perhaps the only chance, for achieving a lasting resolution to conflict here in Ireland and between us and the United Kingdom. We recognize that the Agreement is far from perfect, notably insofar as it has helped to trap our people in a sectarian headcount.
Nevertheless, for now, we believe that the search for the perfect should not become the enemy of the good. We recognise that the main concerns of the Agreement are its lack of clarity with regard to social justice and equality, police reform, decommissioning and demilitarisation. The Green Party is as eager, and as ready as ever, to play its full part in rising to the ongoing challenges of implementing and reviewing the Agreement to ensure that it continues to provide the cornerstone of a new society in Northern Ireland.
We are equally committed to the enhanced role of the Civic Forum and the essential role of active citizens who will ultimately act as the final guarantee of a vibrant, just, inclusive and non-<>violent democracy. Working with the Assembly and the Executive, we must create, not just meaningful jobs, but the means to get to those jobs; not just new high tech industries, but more hospital beds, more housing and an end to hospital and housing waiting lists. The basics of life: clean air, water and food are in limited supply. A new respect must be found for human rights and diversity, for life-long education, and for the fledgling democratic process itself.
Violence, militarism and paramilitarism must be opposed and the United Nations must be supported as the primary forum for the protection and promotion of the Earth and its inhabitants. If ever Northern Ireland needed a change in political thinking, it is now. With a good, if imperfect, set of political institutions established to facilitate peaceful relations between communities, on the island, and between the islands of Ireland and Britain, it is time to move on and delivery the fruits of real peace and security for all. Progress has been measured by the quantity rather than the quality of economic activity, which ignores the growing gap between rich and poor and remains apathetic to the long-term side effects of dumps, pollution and habitat destruction.
The Cost of Economic Growth
It is cold comfort for the government to declare that the economy is growing. For most people this means longer travelling distances, more cars on the road, rising house prices and higher childcare costs as both parents are forced into the labour market to finance huge mortgages. Tales of progress are recited alongside shameful statistics about homelessness, child poverty, domestic violence and a proliferation of street crime.
A Need for Green Politics
Low voter turnout and young peoples apathy towards politics is a very worrying trend. It reflects a basic cynicism and mistrust created not just by corrupt politicians and corrupt politics, but by arrogant politicians who ignore public opinion (the former Environment Minister Dermot Nesbitt, once in office, became an apologist for Sellafield and BNFL) and who renege on Manifesto promises to the electorate (none of the political parties in the current Assembly has called for an independent Environmental Protection Agency for Northern Ireland as part of the reform of public administration).
There is a need for a new politics, which seeks to inspire and put credibility back into the political process while also setting out how humans can live well without destroying the natural world. There is an urgent need for Green Politics.