Green Party gains show NI voters want to step away from ‘them and us politics’

By Rebecca Black, Press Association

Northern Ireland wants to move away from “them and us” politics, the leader of the Greens has said after her party made significant gains.

The Green Party picked up four seats on Belfast City Council, including holding the one they won in 2014.

The centralist Alliance Party also made gains in Belfast, going from eight seats to 10 seats.

Eric Hanvey of the Alliance party (Mark Marlow/PA)

Green Party leader Clare Bailey told the Press Association she is feeling “overwhelmed” by their success.

Mal O’Hara received a jubilant response from supporters as he emerged from the counting room having been deemed elected in the Castle DEA of north Belfast holding a rainbow flag.

He received a kiss from his partner and a hug from Ms Bailey.

Ms Bailey also praised the performance of first-time candidate Aine Groogan, who topped the poll in the Botanic DEA.

“Mal O’Hara’s election is a phenomenal breakthrough for the party to get a seat in north Belfast. It was a very tight race, and Aine Groogan topping the poll in Botanic as a first-time candidate coming in ahead of the mayor and deputy mayor of the city,” she said.

“People have really come out and supported us, they have shown us by their vote that they really want to make the change and our conversations at the door have really resonated, climate change and climate chaos right at the front of the arguments.

Michael McCartan celebrates with his partner Mal O’Hara (right) of the Green Party at the local government election count at Belfast City Hall (Mark Marlow/PA)

“So regardless of our traditional cultural identities, the them and us politics, what we really need to be looking at is how we all mitigate against climate change, and that message is just being understood on the doors and over the last few days we are seeing that result coming in.

“It’s phenomenal.”