THE LAST election to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont was held on 5th May 2016. Yet Ulster will be going to the polls early next month – on 2nd March – where a total of 228 candidates will be competing for the 90 available seats.
Everyone has their own view why this new election has been called. As usual, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) blame Sinn Féin (SF) whilst Sinn Féin blame the DUP. The DUP and SF are, in many quarters, very unpopular at the moment. However, will this translate into votes for the other parties?
All eyes will be on how the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) get on. Their respective leaders Mike Nesbitt and Colum Eastwood have made a great show recently of wishing to ‘share the love’. They’d certainly love to give the DUP and Sinn Féin a well-deserved electoral kicking. But how will they get on if they become the largest parties in Stormont? When all is said and done, Nesbitt supports the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland whilst Eastwood supports a united Ireland. How will they square this circle?
So how will the Stormont election pan out?
Ulster Voice – the voice of the National Liberal Party in Ulster – believes that tribal voting will be the order of the day and that nothing will really change until Stormont is changed itself. That’s because it’s based on a system of institutionalised sectarianism. Here, everything is counted on orange and green lines.
A blind man on a flying horse can see that this form of institutionalised sectarianism means that nothing can really change at Stormont. ‘‘Contentious’ issues – or even the mildest censure of a minister – can also be kicked into touch by a petition of concern. This means that any attempt to tackle deep-seated problems, or root out any corruption, can be stopped in its tracks. It’s government by paralysis.
Given this state of affairs, it’s understandable that many Ulsterfolk either don’t bother to exercise their democratic right to vote or simply spoil their ballot paper.
However, Ulster Voice urges all voters who wish to protest at the current state of affairs not to waste their vote. Instead they should consider the positive option of writing NOTA across the bottom of their ballot paper. NOTA stands for ‘None Of The Above’ and it indicates that you have no interest in the traditional Orange and Green parties and wish to move beyond the religious divide. It means that you reject both institutionalised sectarianism and government by paralysis.
So on Thursday 2nd March Vote NOTA
• LOOK OUT for a future article which will look at the idea of NOTA – and other truly democratic initiatives – in much greater detail.
• THOSE WITH a special interest in Ulster should check out Ulster Nation https://www.facebook.com/groups/14236128906/