Local elections are looming in and around Derry. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be bombarded with poster and leaflet campaigns, the leering faces of wannabe politicians looking down on us from lampposts and billboards with promises of making everything better. Being in Northern Ireland, these promises are probably as well-meaning as they are unattainable, considering there isn’t even a working government in the region — don’t ask and I won’t tell. In a nutshell, the devolved government is still on hold due to squabbling parties, leaving the region in a sort of limbo, made all the worse with Brexit and the myriad issues it has blown up.
In the local papers here were the faces of four people being debuted by a local party, new to them and new to the game of local politics. The four were selected by the party as candidates for us mere normal folk to vote for in the upcoming council elections.
Two of the hopefuls happen to be people I know personally, and it came as a slight surprise to me. Well, certainly one of them. I wondered about their motivation for diving into the murky world of local politics and the life of servitude to a demanding electorate.
I wondered what compelled them to enter the rat race and the confounding landscape of Northern Irish politics. On some level I understand because of the stagnant nature of our political process at the minute and the general feeling of being left behind while people in other countries and government settings make decisions that affect all of us deeply. This could have the effect of pushing a person with a certain aptitude to the political table, even at a basic level.
Currently in Northern Ireland, it’s a depressing state of affairs, and one that could either drive someone to try and get involved or to simply become detached from it all. I have to admit that I’ve been teetering on the edge of both stances of late. I’ve recently moved back to this part of the world and as such I’ve yet to get a really good grasp of the feeling of the public in general. There doesn’t seem to be a vast difference in the overall atmosphere, but there’s certainly fear and uncertainly bubbling under the surface, particularly when the ‘B’ word is thrown around.
Some serious work
Anyway, hats off to these two women and indeed the others — all of which I’m sure are very capable of rubbing shoulders with the best of them and getting some serious work done. I only hope they stick to the original feelings that roused them into action and not get bogged down in the petty politics that has tarnished and continues to tarnish Northern Irish politics today.
Would I have the courage to stand for local office and serve the people? But then again, I wouldn’t be able to criticise and comment on the actions, and inaction, of my colleagues, which is a role some might say is more important. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to speak with the hopefuls over the coming weeks before the elections to get a better idea of what they are standing for and why. And as they attempt to convince potential voters towards their cause, it’ll be interesting to see how their journey takes shape, considering the devolved assembly government is at a complete standstill.
In a way, the fact that there are new people coming forward shows that there is hope and that the seeds of growth and progression are still there. Perhaps their standing will also encourage others to do the same or to get involved in some other way. For, at the end of the day, that is the only way we will move forward with confidence. And at the minute, we need all the help we can get.
Christina Curran is a freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.