We deserve better. This phrase has become the most talked about phrase in our office the past week or so. And why? Because after 590 days of political stalemate in Northern Ireland, we, the citizens, have had enough. We deserve better.
Across Northern Ireland yesterday, the #WeDeserveBetter campaign held marches and protests in unity that it doesn’t matter what side you’re on, we need our politicians to get back to work.
Please be aware that the views and opinions expressed below are mine and mine alone. I do not wish to offend anyone by sharing my views on the situation. Finally, I would ask anyone leaving comments below to please be mindful of other people’s’ beliefs. I’m probably going to waffle a lot in this post, but I needed to voice my thoughts and opinions. I’m sorry if you disagree or don’t like them.
Some of you who’ve been around a while might remember my posts – Let’s Get Political Part 1 and Let’s Get Political Part 2. Little did I think when I wrote those back in March 2017, that I would be sitting in the August of 2018 (almost September) reminding you all that Northern Ireland still has no devolved government. No amount of so-called talks, elections, or deals have worked so far, and we deserve better.
For 590 days, our MLAs and MPs that usually sit in Stormont, have been paid to do nothing. They are being paid to blame each other for the lack of power sharing in the Northern Ireland Assembly. They are being paid to be seen on TV talking about how they’re willing to co-operate while the other side aren’t, all the while refusing to budge on the issues that continue to pull our government apart. We deserve better.
Now, for anyone thinking “Hey, Northern Ireland are finally getting into the Guinness World Book of Records for something!”, you’re wrong. Due to the fact that Northern Ireland is a devolved assembly, governed by those in Westminster, we don’t actually count in the “longest a country has been without a fully functioning administration”. This is the same government that promised the DUP extra money for Northern Ireland if they entered into a coalition of sorts. It’s also the one that gave us Karen Bradley to supposedly solve the situation over here. Don’t get me started on her. We deserve better.
Actually, no. Now that I am thinking about Ms Bradley, let’s focus on her comments from yesterday. Quoting from the Irish Times online (see here), Karen Bradley is ‘aware of the public frustration’. It refers to her statement that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue. But what is she actually doing about this? Has she brought the two women in power to sit at a table and sort it out? Has she stopped their pay until it’s sorted? Has she actually done anything of note, except avoid a fight at the Balmoral Show earlier this year? Not that I’m aware of. If I’m wrong, please do let me know below. But honestly? We deserve better.
Having said all that, the protests around the country probably won’t change anything. A few hundred here, another hundred there, who’s going to pay attention to them? Heck, the DUP even used the #WeDeserveBetter campaign to launch another attack at Sinn Fein, telling them to end the boycott. Neither side are blameless in this. The sooner they acknowledge this, the better for us. We deserve better.
Back tracking a little bit now. When we had had political stalemate for a while, we were asked to vote in a second election. It was hoped that this would help iron out a few issues supposedly in the way. Except, we voted them back in again, knowing fine rightly that they probably wouldn’t retake their seats. We voted for the two main parties in the country. We looked at what was happening around us, and still decided that we would vote for the people we always do. Okay yes, some seats changed hands. Some things did change. But not enough did. We deserve better.
Due to the fire in Primark in Belfast yesterday, the demonstration planned for outside Belfast City Hall was cancelled. Still, around 100 people showed up. Part of me wonders what would happen if we all showed up. What would happen if we all walked out of work, or school, or college, tomorrow, and refused to go back until Stormont re-assembled properly? What would happen if everyone wrote to their local MPs and MLAs and everyone else they possibly could – even just the local council – and told them we want more. We need more. We deserve more. Because we deserve better.
I won’t rehash some of the stories I have read online tonight regarding the demonstrations that took place. The stories shared at them, the discussions had. What was brilliant was that it showed that at least some people in the country are fed up. I was unaware the Belfast demonstration was cancelled. I had a prior engagement organised. I instead chose to write this post. What difference will it make? Probably none. But I can say that over my lunch break today, I plan on drafting a letter to each and every political person I can think of, asking them to look at the bigger picture.
We are driving away the young of Northern Ireland. We’re allowing the past to affect our present and future. And while we should never forget the past, we should learn from it. It shouldn’t matter whether you are from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Wales or England. We need to put pressure on the DUP, Sinn Fein, and the MPs in Westminster, to stop this “Do Nothing” approach. If you were living in Scotland, and Holyrood suddenly just stopped working for 590 days, still on full pay, would you not be up in arms? And what about those of you in Wales? Is it considered “enough” because we’re that tiny part of the UK that people tend to forget about? Or do you agree that we deserve better?
If you would like to read more about the We Deserve Better campaign, please do. Please feel free to come back to me in the comments below with your thoughts and opinions. I do, however, ask again that you be respectful of others when doing so. I hope I have been impartial or respectful in my wording, and again apologise for any offence caused by my thoughts and opinions. I’ve just had enough. We deserve better.