Report by James McCumiskey:
The Green Party Conference took place on Saturday February 27th at the Clayton Hotel on Ormeau Avenue, Belfast.
Marian Farrell and James McCumiskey attended on behalf of Positive Money Northern Ireland.
Dora Meade from Positive Money London kindly sent out a stall-pack, which included a purple plastic table-cloth, a banner, loads of Positive Money leaflets and two leaflet holders.
This was the first time for both of us at a party conference and certainly I was a little apprehensive about it. I got there at about ten to nine in the morning and introduced myself to the Green Party staff and was shown to the Positive Money table in a small room beside the main conference room. There were 8-9 other stall-holders in our room – British Humanists, Transplant Northern Ireland, Physical Therapists Northern Ireland, and other Northern Ireland charities.
I had my big bag of goodies from Positive Money and set about dressing the table. That all went well – just a little difficulty in getting the banner hung up, but with the help of Alan from Transplant Northern Ireland I succeeded! I had 8 copies of Modernising Money by Ben Dyson and Andrew Jackson. Table was ready by 09:30 and I could relax and have a cup of coffee. Marian then came along and both of us fielded questions from the delegates and the Green Party Politicians. When the delegates started drifting off to their meeting we had some free time and put on our purplish Positive Money T-shirts. We now looked the part!
The way conferences work is that they have their motions / debates in their conference rooms and the politicians and delegates visit the stalls before the conference starts and during the coffee breaks.
The party leader Stephen Agnew MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly for Northern Ireland) made a point of getting his photo taken with all the the Positive Money stall. Ross Brown is a Green Party Councillor on Belfast City Council and is a strong advocate for Monetary Reform. He is campaigning to be an MLA for East Belfast. The Party Leader Stephen Agnew is an MLA for North Down and understood the Positive Money message and said that Ross Brown was always talking about it. We spoke with Professor John Barry Professor of Green Political Economy at Queens University Belfast – another keen advocate for monetary reform and a Green Party Councillor. He bought Modernising Money.
The Green Party is standing in all 18 Northern Ireland constituencies in the next election for the Legislative Assembly in May 2016. All the prospective candidates wore rosettes and we got talking with at least half of them (9 out of 18). We spoke with a good number of delegates. Many were familiar with the idea of monetary reform but it was an eye-opener for a few delegates who had previously believed that government created 100% of the money supply!
Some Green Party delegates mentioned Basic Income and we were able to link in the creation of new money by a reformed Bank of England to an increase in the Basic Income to be given to every British citizen to spend into circulation.
While the delegates were at their meetings, Marian and I had a good old natter and got to know each other a lot better, and spoke about our other interests. We also talked with the other stall-holders. One of them turned out to be one of only four Bank of England employees in Northern Ireland. She had not previously heard of Positive Money and we explained Sovereign Money to her and that the Bank of England could be reformed to become the only issuer of money in the UK.
We got 20 or so signatures advocating for a money commission – which I will be passing onto Positive Money in London.
All in all a good day out and we are looking forward to the next party conference – Sinn Fein in Dublin at the end of April.