Greens don’t rule out taking justice ministry

Steven Agnew, Green Party
Steven Agnew, Green Party

The Greens would consider an approach to fill Stormont’s contentious justice ministry, but only if the conditions were right, its party leader has said.

Green Party Assembly member Steven Agnew has not ruled himself out as a potential holder of the politically sensitive post if the Alliance Party refuses to retake the job.

However, he said significant changes would be required on the proposed DUP/Sinn Fein programme for government, with more emphasis on eco-friendly investment policies and integrated education, before he could contemplate joining the Stormont Executive.

“I saw parties in the last mandate have positions in government but no positions of power,” he said when asked if he would consider taking the post if offered.

“I would go in to assess whether or not I would have any power, any say in the decision making, and it would be on that basis I would make any decision.”

Mr Agnew, who said he had not been approached by the main parties on the issue, said the draft programme for government (PFG) was significantly lacking in detail.

“My view very much is it’s all aspirational – it says we want good things, we don’t want bad things,” he said.

“If that’s the main document of this next government I think it makes Northern Ireland a laughing stock.”

He added: “I have consistently said that I will take every opportunity to get the policies of the Green Party enacted in government, but equally what I won’t do is simply go in and take a position to prop up the DUP and Sinn Fein.”

Mr Agnew said he would need to see progress on his party’s key manifesto pledges.

“If there’s no progressive change can be made by having a Green Party minister then we are better in opposition holding those parties to account,” he said.