We Greens are making our mark
Weeks of campaigning for the Westminster elections paid dividends, with a surge of votes for the Green Party in Northern Ireland.
The Green Party broke new ground by standing Westminster candidates for the first time in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, West Tyrone and East Belfast, offering a real alternative to traditional, old-style politics.
All five Westminster candidates were heartened by the response from potential voters as they knocked on doors and attended hustings. This translated into votes on May 7.
Support for the Green Party was particularly apparent in South Belfast, where deputy leader Clare Bailey doubled votes polled from 2010. This exceeded all our expectations. I also doubled my vote in North Down, giving great confidence for the future.
East Belfast, where competition was always between Alliance and DUP, saw Belfast councillor Ross Brown lay a solid foundation for his Assembly 2016 campaign.
In the west, local campaigner Tanya Jones took her anti-fracking message to the constituents of Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Another well-known campaigner, Ciaran McClean, garnered support in West Tyrone for Green Party priorities.
What was once an ambition is now a realistic goal and the Green Party will confidently go into the Assembly 2016 elections targeting three Assembly seats - North Down, South Belfast and East Belfast. We will also support candidates in other areas, given that we have had many inquiries as to when we will be standing candidates in all areas so that people can vote Green.
The Green Party has promised to work for the common good - serving everyone, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, or perceived community background.
From ending austerity to promoting a living wage, from creating jobs by developing low-carbon industry to reducing fuel poverty through the creation of energy-efficient homes, the Green Party will continue to work for you to make a real difference.
We are proud of every single person who chose to vote Green. Every vote was a vote for change - and we will build on this for the future. The Green Party is here to stay.
Steven Agnew MLA is leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland