MLAs – they work for you

I’m not sure where to start.

I remember an election in May 2016, which allowed hope to flourish. There was an attempt at grown up politics with an opposition and everything. And then it all imploded.

RHI scandal, the Irish Language act….I don’t know what the final trigger was. Perhaps it was just the general incompetence that seemed to manifest itself (note – I do know it wasn’t the media’s fault despite the DUP’s view. We have some outstanding reporters who have worked hard, as they should, to uncover what has gone on).

Fast forward to #AE17 and a rise in the turnout of voters. And yet, those that we have elected have not listened and have failed to find a way forward. This evening (Sunday), both the DUP and Sinn Féin have (apparently) failed to reach agreement to establish an Executive.

Quite frankly, they have failed us.

Playing politics is playing with real lives. It is more than about making sure our education system is the best it can be and that we can access the healthcare we need. Politics affects every aspect of our lives, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

So what’s next? Who knows.

Perhaps there will be a last minute reprieve, but what will that really change, except to put Parties that can’t abide each other into the room together? Perhaps our two largest parties want #AE17(2), but what will that really change, except to further divide and polarise our wee country? Direct rule, anyone? I think the PM will view the mess that is Brexit as more of a priority.

When an election rolls round every four years or so, some start to get ‘political’. The clictivist campaigns and round robin emails start, which is really too little too late. So what I suggest is to get political now.

Regardless of whether or not we will face an election in the short term, educate yourself on how our political system works. Learn how your votes transfer and how you can elect MLAs who will actually work for you. That’s right. MLAs work for you. Ask them where they stand on issues that are important to you and if you don’t like the answer then move on.

I doubt any particular party will meet all your ideals, but find your best fit.

We hold the key to the future. It’s called a vote. Don’t be afraid to use it.

Sara McCracken works in communications for an educational body. She previously worked for the Green Party for #AE16 and in the health sector.