With the election now over I have had time to reflect on events, but before I relay my thoughts let me begin by congratulating each of the candidates elected to the assembly. Differences aside, I welcome that there will be at least three MLA's on the hill to administer reality medicine to those clearly delusional on a number of fronts. After all 18 years after the GFA we have had multiple agreements, multiple disagreements, and little sign of progress or maturity.
The candidate I supported in the election Dr Anne McCloskey didn't get elected THIS TIME but she did extremely well receiving 3410 first preference votes. Dr Anne received more first preference votes than two former and one sitting MLA. The sitting MLA Raymond McCartney later had his vote topped up via the proportional representation system. This system in the words of comedian Jake O'Kane is a 'highly complex mathematical equation designed to get as many undesirables elected as possible'. Having witnessed the out-workings of the PR system first hand I feel Jake has a point with this system more beneficial to the larger parties than to anyone else.
I have to say I am so proud of the people in Foyle and in the West Belfast constituency who opened a can of Whoop-Ass on the main political parties in this election. A factor that cannot be overlooked in this shift is that both areas are recorded to have the highest unemployment and child poverty rates in the north. In the Hume Heartland of Foyle the SDLP's Gerard Diver lost his seat to People Before Profit's Eamonn McCann and Gerry Carroll topped the poll in the Adams homeland of West Belfast taking a Sinn Fein seat.
In the Foyle constituency over 40% of those eligible to vote declined the privilege whilst an approximate 20% voted for alternative candidates. If I were to apply the logic continually applied by the main Stormont party representatives then I'd have to say that dissidents are on the rise in Derry, with anyone seen to be going against the status quo branded a dissident. In recent years we have had dissident journalists, dissident lollipop men and now doctors. On the upside, at least something's on the rise in Derry outside of empty promises, poverty and discrimination.
A report published by the Detail on April 27th showed that the last assembly failed to fulfill many of their targets laid down in the programme for government. Amongst these failures was the failure to fulfill the statutory commitment to reduce child poverty as well as the failure to spend a special £80million fund for deprived communities. These factors are proof that addressing poverty was low on the list of priorities. I would expect that high on the agenda for those newly elected would be the implementation of a strategy to address the growing poverty crisis in the north. However I don't envy this task with welfare reform just around the corner as has been shown through a TV advertisement aired just days after the election. For the record welfare reform is a more sanitised way of describing welfare budgetary cuts which are to be imposed on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
For my own part in the election I can honestly say I am proud to have played a part in Dr Anne McCloskey's campaign. This period introduced me to new and fantastic people and as well as this it has opened my eyes to the lengths some people will go to, to tarnish a person's reputation and campaign. When it became clear that Eamonn McCann would take a seat in Foyle the rumour mongers who had surprisingly left him alone for the duration of the election immediately turned on him suggesting that he would be handing his seat over to a fellow party member in less than one year. The idea that a man who has contested elections since 1969 would hand his first seat over is as absurd as the rumour that Dr Anne would have been handing hers over to a number of people had she have been elected. I would hope that this election will have shown those meting out dirty propaganda that it can have an adverse effect with people generally quick to see through this type of behavior.
End result: Democracy 3410/4227, Rumour Mongers 0.
Another thing that surprised me in this election was the lack of female candidates with only ¼ of those standing women. With Sinn Fein's Maeve McLaughlin having lost her seat in the Foyle constituency there is no female representative. The majority of party candidates just happened to be men, it's not to say there aren't many capable women out there. When you consider the state Derry is in surely the feminine touch wouldn't go amiss.
The lack of independent women in political office needs to change, I for one would hope that Dr Anne is a catalyst and an inspiration to women to make that move. There will be some who would argue that an increase in the numbers of women even in political parties should be encouraged, yet I would disagree. As part of her platform Dr Anne stood for the people not the party and was a voice unimpeded by party diktat.
In contrast when Derry was announced as a runner for the UK city of Culture Maeve McLaughlin former Sinn Fein MLA then a Derry City Councillor upset the normalisation gravy train by saying 'While we are a city of culture there has to be a recognition that we're not part of the UK. "We are not opposing the bid, but we are putting down a marker at this stage and saying we should be exploring, rather than cementing, this relationship.” Shortly after this Maeve was ensconced as a director of the 'Culture Company' to oversee the UK City of Culture. Now I'm not saying I'm right, but then again, what if Maeve just had to toe the Sinn Fein UK City of Culture party line instead of sticking to her guns which seemed to have been quickly decommissioned.
With this in mind give me true independence any day.
Question for 'chip shop paper' troll/bar stool general, how do you get your tank through the door of Peadars?