A "RISING star" councillor running in the General Election has said Westminster does not "care" about disabled people as she looks to improve representation in Parliament.

The Scottish Greens launched their campaign in Edinburgh North and Leith on Tuesday, as  local candidate Kayleigh O’Neill was joined by Lorna Slater, the party’s co-leader and MSP for Lothian.

The National:

‘There hasn’t been this much support for the Scottish Greens since 2014’

O’Neill (below) is currently a Scottish Greens councillor for the Forth ward at Edinburgh City Council.

The National: Kayleigh O'Neill is currently a Scottish Greens councillor for the Forth ward at City of Edinburgh

Her campaign is focused on action on climate change, advocating for peace and an end to “complicity with genocide” in Palestine, a fairer social security system and breaking down barriers disabled people face from the UK Government.

Campaigners at the event told The National that the party has seen a surge in support since the end of the Bute House Agreement in April, adding that there hadn’t been such a large increase in membership since the 2014 independence referendum.

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Slater said the General Election campaign had so far been “really exciting”, adding that the public has resonated with the Greens’ vision for “a strong, independent Scotland inside the EU, where we belong”.

The National:

“People seem really excited to hear what we have to say,” she told The National.

“We can do more for people, more for climate with all the powers that an independent country has.

“We can build a brilliant future; we just have to decide that it’s going to be that way.”

O’Neill – labelled a “rising star” in the Scottish Greens by Slater – is excited to be speaking up about what the Scottish Greens are doing, as the party looks set to stand more candidates than ever before.

“We completely understand that in Westminster the vote is not built for Scotland’s parties," she said.

“We’re here today to remind people that the Scottish Greens are not a wasted vote.

“It’s going to be a very busy month, but I’m looking forward to it.”

'Westminster does not care about people like us’

O’Neill has previously spoken out on Twitter/X about the lack of accessibility in her current workplace, Edinburgh City Council, where she was elected in 2022.

As a wheelchair user, O’Neill has been unable to access the main city chambers and instead has no choice but to work in a separate building, away from the other councillors.

“City chambers was not a good accessible place, but we’ve worked around that,” O’Neill said.

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“For me, personally, it is so brilliant and empowering to start a campaign as a disabled candidate, and have the people of Edinburgh have the opportunity to vote for someone like me and for a party like us.”

If she were elected in Westminster, O’Neill said “they would have a lot of issues with me being there”.

She continued: “And that’s a great thing, I think it’s about time that someone has gone there and raised those things.”

O’Neill reflected on the moment Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay received a standing ovation upon returning to work in Parliament after losing his limbs to sepsis.

“He was welcomed back with open arms, which was beautiful to see no matter what party,” O’Neill said.

“But it was really disheartening because I know in my heart of hearts that that building does not care about him, it does not care about people like us.

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“It completely governs in a way that weights towards killing us more than actually protecting us.”

She added: “It’s a protest in itself, I think, just standing in this election and giving people the opportunity to vote for people like me.

“Disabled people are about 20% of Scotland’s population, and it’s less than 1% of MPs.

"It’s wonderful seeing people like you represented in places of power, making decisions.

“If a younger person in a wheelchair sees another person in a wheelchair running for election, maybe they don’t agree with my policies, but it’s about that representation.”

City of Edinburgh Council has been contacted for comment.