With the Assembly Election upon us the voters of Northern Ireland will be faced with terrible dilemmas as they approach the ballot box.
Those many who support the radical application of local democracy in tandem with full involvement of Northern Ireland in pan-United Kingdom affairs have regretfully been deprived of UKIP candidates apart from in East Antrim.
Those who are horrified at the mismanagement and skulduggery which has passed for representation of the people in the outgoing and previous Assemblies will wish to avoid supporting the Big Five Parties which formed the 2011-2015 Executive. Yet many will be tempted to hold their noses and vote for one or more of these parties. With the Good Friday agreement requiring mandatory coalition and the subsequent Saint Andrew’s Agreement conceding that the First Minister should belong to the largest single party, our Devolved Government Arrangements have cemented the divisive Two Community Myth which paralyses our part of the United Kingdom. All of the Big Five Parties, but DUP and Sinn Fein in particular, use this Two Community approach to generate their own versions of Project Fear among voters. “Vote for us or you will be dominated by Irish Republicans/Loyalist Jackboots” Delete which does not apply. The Good Friday Agreement makes sure that this approach works.
The excuse for this election, which, in reality, is about an internal power struggle in Sinn Fein, is the obvious mismanagement and alleged corruption of the Renewable Heating Initiative (RHI). As the Big Five Parties all hurl accusations at each other over RHI it is worth repeating that all five parties nodded the legislation through the Assembly and not one of their MLAs raised any objection.
On Thursday, I intend to take Project Fear square on. I will not give any sort of preference to any Alliance, DUP, SDLP, Sinn Fein or UUP candidate. I will give my first preference to a party which organises throughout the United Kingdom and my lower preferences to parties or independents who wish to radically democratise the structures of our Devolved Government. I urge others to follow suit.