I only got involved in politics in 2013 when I was introduced to NI21 by my late friend Olive Buckley. I liked the fact that it was different from other Northern Ireland parties and it was new. I don’t need to tell you how that ended but safe to say I was bitterly disappointed and vowed never to join another political party again. However interacting on social media with others I couldn’t keep stop putting my h’pennys worth and I couldn’t resist commenting on something in the news. My favourite programmes were now The View and local politics shows. Talkback with William Crawley was a must and if I wakened in time I’d dip into the Nolan show. I began to read articles, Famiarize myself with the elected political figures and the parties they represented.
Not long ago I was asked to join a group who were contemplating launching a new party but I had been through that before and at my age I needed a party that was well established, fulfilled at least 95 per cent of my beliefs and was non sectarian. I had voted at the last election for Alliance. I had interacted with members of the party on social media and in my role as a member of the steering committee for opengovni.
I found them to be approachable and Alliance, represented by Stewart Dixon, was happy to meet us and discuss what open government was all about. I was delighted when Naomi Long become leader as I felt she could transfer a lot of what she had learned in Westminster to the assembly and to the broader party. It would be impossible to get a party that ticked all boxes but Alliance comes closest to my wish list. I was pleased and impressed when my 16 year old grandson also became interested in politics. He also joined the Alliance party ( that reduced membership fee was a great incentive for younger people) and so the two of us headed to Stormont on Thursday night to a ‘meet and greet ‘for new members. The long gallery was packed with new and some ‘old’ members. A huge turnout. After some interaction and a quick cuppa with the other attendees and after some introductions the lady herself, Naomi Long, took the stand and despite a long and tiring day gave a rousing ‘call to battle’. Hopefully not a ‘brutal ‘ election as some have predicted. So come election day I will be voting Alliance in East Belfast and hoping that this is the time that the voters will step away from orange and green politics and vote for ‘bread and butter ‘ issues. I know Naomi will do a grand job in helping to normalise politics in our ‘wee country ‘ and challenging those who seek to undermine it. She will hold other parties to account and she will be fair and measured in her responses. I admire how she stays calm on social media when confronted with trolls.
I hope in this upcoming election, Alliance, and indeed all the opposition parties do well and will come back stronger and in a position to challenge the openness and transparency that are lacking in today’s assembly.