Green Party leader Bailey says Stormont crisis 'farcical and damaging'

Green Party leader Clare Bailey
Green Party leader Clare Bailey.

The latest crisis at Stormont has been described as "farcical and very damaging" by the leader of Northern Ireland's Green Party.

Clare Bailey urged voters to "move beyond traditional politics of division" as she criticised first minister Paul Givan's resignation over the Northern Ireland Protocol as a "political stunt" and urged an end to a "manufactured crisis".

Addressing her party's conference in Belfast, Ms Bailey highlighted issues to be tackled, including the climate crisis, cost-of-living crisis and health service crisis.

"With no first or deputy first minister, devolution is not operating as it should. This situation is farcical and very damaging," she said.

"Political stunts from the DUP first minister's resignation do nothing to change the protocol, it is a sticking plaster over internal party wranglings (rather) than anything to do with solving international agreements and trade deals.

"Those who wanted Brexit have got Brexit and need to take responsibility for Brexit.

"A political system that allows this situation to arise is clearly a system long overdue for reform.

"It's time to put an end to manufactured crises - we want a system that can cope with the issues facing people's lives.

"We need politicians who are willing to do the job they were elected to do. No more deadlock, no more stalemate, no more collapse."

Ms Bailey said that as a result the planned three-year Stormont Budget will not be delivered, including an additional £300 million.

"As people struggle to afford to feed their families and heat their homes, Stormont is sitting on £300 million of emergency funding which can't be spent due to the collapse of the Executive," she said.

She urged the DUP to nominate a first minister to allow the Executive to be re-established in the final weeks before the Assembly is dissolved for fresh elections.

The Green Party is running candidates in all 18 constituencies.

It currently has two MLAs - Ms Bailey in South Belfast and Rachel Woods in North Down.

Ms Bailey told her party conference that with just two MLAs, they have been driving the legislative agenda at Stormont.

Ms Bailey has authored a number of Private Member's Bills, including on climate change as well as creating safe spaces around abortion clinics, while Ms Woods proposed the Safe Paid Leave Bill to guarantee victims of domestic abuse 10 days' paid leave from work.

While Ms Bailey's Climate Bill was overtaken by one proposed by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, she said that through amendments it is now "much stronger".

"It's not everything we wanted, particularly the less ambitious methane targets, however we have to respect the will of the House," she said.

"This has been a democratically developed Bill, with much cross-party working, now it's time we ensure its delivery."