The new leader of the Green Party has become the first gay leader of a major party in Northern Ireland.
Deputy Green Party leader Mal O’Hara, 43, has been named leader of the Green Party of Northern Ireland. He will replace outgoing leader Clare Bailey, who lost her seat in May.
He was elected on Monday August 15 after running unopposed.
In a statement posted to Facebook, O’Hara said:
“It is time for a new generation of activists. We were right about marriage and abortion and we were always right about the environment. It is welcome that others follow our example.
“Northern Ireland faces many challenges; the cost of living, housing, mental health, reconciliation and of course the climate and biodiversity crises.
“I believe the Greens have unique solutions to these challenges. We can create a fairer world and a fairer Northern Ireland.
“Come be a part of it.”
O’Hara: an overrepresentation of older heterosexual men
In an interview with the Irish Times, he spoke of the historical significance of his appointment.
“I hope this tells the next generation of LGBT activists that you can be what you can see. It means you can be the leader of a party, it means you can be elected, and it expands political representation in the North.
“I think we have an overrepresentation of older heterosexual men of a certain class, and politics needs to change and be more diverse and representative of those wider communities and I think that brings us better politics.”
O’Hara joined the Green Party in 2014 and was first elected to Belfast City Council in 2019, representing the Castle district ever since. That year he became deputy leader of the Greens.