Green Party leader optimistic about East Belfast candidate's election chances
The Green Party is targeting East Belfast in a bid to secure a potential third seat in the March election.
Party leader in Northern Ireland Steven Agnew said they narrowly missed out in the east of the city last year.
Speaking at his party's manifesto launch, Mr Agnew said they are the only party predicted to increase their votes.
The Green Party secured two seats in the Assembly election last year. This year only 90 MLAs will be returned to Stormont - compared to 108 from previous assembly polls.
"The Green Party got its biggest ever vote in May 2016 and recent polls have predicted our vote to significantly increase," said Mr Agnew.
"Whilst we didn't want to see an election - we want to see stability in governance in Northern Ireland - as a party we welcome this election because it gives us another opportunity to show the sort of politics we are offering is what people actually want to see," he added.
Mr Agnew is hoping to be returned as MLA in North Down and Clare Bailey in South Belfast.
He is also optimistic that candidate Georgina Milne could be selected in East Belfast.
He said: "We are the only party not expected to lose seats in this election.
"With the shrinking Assembly every party is expected to take a hit.
"We are predicted to hold the seats we have and if the Green surge materialises we could see an increase in seats in somewhere like say East Belfast where we came close last time but just missed out."
Mr Agnew said this election is a referendum on the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.
"The Green Party is the only party to raise the flaws (of RHI) from the beginning.
"When flaws were exposed we were the only party to propose a fair and legal way of protecting public money.
"Others said something must be done, we said what should be done," he added.
The party's 19-page manifesto contains a series of commitments which the party says will make Northern Ireland a better place to live.
On Brexit, the party wants to see a referendum on the terms of negotiation between the UK and the EU.
On education, the party wants to ensure that all children have access to integrated education throughout their academic careers.
The party also opposes the privatisation of healthcare and cuts to frontline NHS services.