Am I (is anyone?) even vaguely excited about the prospect of voting in Thursday’s Northern Ireland Assembly elections? no
There is much debate and serious opinion on RTÉ and the Irish print media as to why this election is different, but little has changed on the ground and enthusiasm is scarce.
BBC Northern Ireland and the local press are doing the usual dance around the usual suspects. All the happy news of progress and an increase in female candidates is overshadowed by sinister stories about election posters.
Belfast’s leafy suburbs emptied as usual over the Easter holidays – some to the north coast, some to Donegal, some to Dublin and others to where EasyJet would take them.
John Hewitt’s poem The coasters best describes many of us who live well here: “A good useful life. You went with us.” It says a lot about “the north” that a poem written in 1969 can still appeal to the status quo.
We returned to our beloved city and found that we had missed being put on the doorstep by campaigners. Shame. They were sorry they missed us.
Leaflets for all parties left in mailboxes insist Northern Ireland is entering a new era. A post-Covid, post-Brexit nirvana of gliders, dog parks, new schools (integrated/non-integrated depending on party or persuasion), green affordable homes, GPs galore, fiber broadband, inflation-dampening pay rises, assembly reform and (my favorite) a campaign pledge to “stop the brain drain and tackle big problems.”
Jolie great. What could possibly go wrong? let’s choose
The truth is that Northern Ireland is a wonderful place to live, despite its politicians and the Stormont Circus. Many of us have lived good lives for ourselves, our families, and our communities. The Executive Branch’s failure to govern consistently and responsibly is troubling and harms everyone who lives and works here.
In the last five years, the Assembly has only met for two years. Good job if you can get it. She has been a dysfunctional “zombie executive” in recent months – at a time when, according to election announcements from all parties, there is a livelihood crisis, a health crisis, a childcare crisis and, among other crises, a crisis/opportunity of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
At least all parties agree that we need to be governed and that there is much work to be done. Almost enough, then, to get by with a “mandatory coalition”. Except that the two biggest parties think it’s more fun to wrap yourself in flags and roll down the hill.
Stormont: It’s a very nice place to walk your dog. In fairness, they laid it out beautifully. There’s even one of those robot lawn mowers that your dog can bark at.
The DUP Sinn Féin chair routine has wrecked Northern Ireland politics. The uneasy peace is still something of a miracle and we appreciate it, but the price can no longer be tiptoeing around these dinosaurs and tyrants.
The people here have suffered and sacrificed enough. We deserve better than the tired and menacing rhetoric that is the dark side of this and every election.
Worse than the sycophantic, patronizing, and untenable promises are the blatant threats so openly jostling for position in some of the Dear Voter paraphernalia. The “Vote for us or Else” brigade versus the “We didn’t go away, you know” squad. Charming.
Is it any wonder my hairdresser on Lisburn Road was shocked when I broke protocol (pun intended) and asked him if he thought the optimistic Southern pundits had said it and that these elections would bring “real change”. would?
He amused me and talked about politics long enough to help me understand that while people deserve better and will probably embrace the Allianz slogan “Together We Can” and not wrap themselves in flags, they don’t want better or choose “different”. if it means “the other kind,” become First Minister.
And so I had my first public talk about domestic politics in Northern Ireland. It only lasted about 30 years. It’s a taboo subject when almost nothing else is.
However, it is encouraging to see so many younger and diverse candidates in the running this time around. Surely hope must trump fear as we navigate a new phase in political life.
Few local pundits care about this week’s results other than Freya McClements Tthe Irish Times has had the courage to articulate the real possibility of a disabled six-month discussion period once the votes are counted. More toys and babies in prams and an endless parade of politicians, the WFH.
Is it any wonder that the Belfast marathon is being talked about more today than Thursday’s general election? It starts at Stormont Estate (that’s the marathon) and ends at Ormeau Park.
The funny, sad truth is that the only election people talk about over oatmeal on Ormeau Road or cinnamon rolls at The Bay Tree in Holywood is last weekend’s French presidential election.
The Belfast bourgeoisie is far more interested in pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron and his gallant victory over far-right Marine Le Pen than in any ‘Norn Iron’ candidate.
It’s so much easier, sexier, and safer to discuss somewhere else. In Northern Ireland the old adage ‘whatever you say, say nothing’ still applies.
In this place, votes were seldom about change.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/we-deserve-better-than-the-bullies-and-dinosaurs-of-stormont-politics-41604287.html We deserve better than the tyrants and dinosaurs of Stormont politics