CALLING A SPAD A SPAD

Throughout February, we’re getting people from all over Northern Ireland to contribute personal pieces in the run up to the election on March 2nd. 28 days in February for 28 different voices.

There are still a few spots left to fill so get in touch!


Christine Carlin

As a woman well into her fifties I look at the local and the wider international political situation with a sense of despondency. A sinking feeling that no matter who you vote for, the government gets back in.

I would believe in democracy if the ballot paper contained an option for NOTA, none of the above. If this choice were available it would be very interesting to gauge the percentage of voters who would demonstrate this preference.

While I am delighted to see female representation and leadership, I am not hearing the narrative hospitality of representing all, be they male, female, transgender, rural, urban, wealthy, impoverished…

The current situation was brought about by at best incompetence, or worse perhaps, the whiff of smokey corruption that lays bare the status of power sharing. As an outsider (of the Assembly) looking in, I lose interest when Arlene Foster speaks of being a woman and a strong unionist leader. Yes we share gender affiliations and while I am delighted to see female representation and leadership, I am not hearing the narrative hospitality of representing all, be they male, female, transgender, rural, urban, wealthy, impoverished…

The elevation of Michelle O’Neill likewise strikes me as a counter-strategy from Sinn Féin rather than genuine glass ceiling smashing for all of us women. As a citizen of the West of the Bann, it is fascinating to see the paucity of infrastructure and resources trickling west despite having three leaders whose roots are in the West!

We need actions, not shit and shibboleths.

Tragically too many of the population are forced to chose between:

1.Voting tribally to keep the others out.
2. Voting for the least worst option.

But if I can suggest a third middle way…

3. Voting for those parties, assembly members who have integrity.

Parties like People Before Profit who have clear policies, are visible outside libraries and on picket lines and who talk about the rights of human beings. Or the Green Party for prioritising the environment. A vote for the mavericks who are authentic and principled.

Only in Northern Ireland could a renewable energy scheme become a profligate bonfire of the vanities.

How to comment on this Assembly without bias and despair. Where can I find hope for the future?

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Only in Northern Ireland could a renewable energy scheme become a profligate bonfire of the vanities. I would like to know how this scheme was so badly translated from the UK and who has and continues to receive public money. There has to be a clearly documented, minuted trail of who signed off on what, and when.

Could this information be put into the public domain and could those whose actions, or inactions led to this point, stand up and be accountable. Literally call a SPAD a SPAD. I do live in hope that voters will choose option 3. We need representatives who work for ALL, not for narrow sectarian fiefdoms and the polished sound bite.

What is going on in the wider world is a conflict between lovers of power and the power of love. The challenge for me is asking what would love do? What is in the highest interest of all? Not the blinkered blight of blatant party politics.

We deserve the best.

And a train service that is quicker than the bus.

Oh, and some roads would be nice.

I live in hope.


Denver Charles teaches History and Government & Politics and is Chair of the History Teachers’ Association of Northern Ireland .

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Photo credit: Nathan Stewart

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