The serious lack of transparency from our Executive right now…
The nightmare of the EU referendum result…
The stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off American election…
All these things terrify me.
I'm struck by how damaging the constant exploitation of fear has been; at the spinelessness and the complete lack of responsibility shown by those in power, and how it negatively affects our society. I know, and I’m sure that you know too, that combatting these problems separately, individually, is almost impossible. What we need is better politics, more cohesiveness; for that we need more people getting actively involved.
I joined the Alliance Party in December 2012 as an act of solidarity...
I had been working for Anna Lo for several months - the attack on my colleagues simply for standing by a policy which the party had held for a decade was a calculated response, not simply a reaction over a flag flown at City Hall, but at an election lost in East Belfast. And I was angry.
Fate, or maybe just good sense, had led me to Anna Lo’s office where I spent four years working with some of the most capable and dedicated people you could ever hope to meet. In that time I saw Anna Lo raise environmental concerns when no one else did, she pushed for female reproductive rights and stood up for ethnic minorities when other parties wouldn’t. I witnessed David Ford make huge personal sacrifices in supporting equal marriage and I saw Stephen Farry be a reassuring voice of intellect, rationality and sense. I stood in awe of Naomi Long who responded to threats made to her life with such dignity and grace. The Alliance team at Stormont raise the bar (which is generally set pretty low) and show us what sort of elected representatives we deserve – and also show us what we must aspire to. Because progressive, proactive politics goes a lot further in dealing with constituents concerns than bitterly fixating on issues of the past.
Alliance *is* different to other political parties - not just because of our cross-community ethos and commitment to evidence-based policy, but because of our people. We are led by people with integrity, people without prejudice and sectarian hang-ups, people you can trust.
It’s not just our MLAs either. Through my involvement with the local association I found people of all backgrounds and identities who are ultimately united over the commitment to create a peaceful, shared society, where diversity is celebrated as a strength - not a weakness. I found people who recognise that no good comes from division, in any part of the world. I joined a party, but I also joined a family – a family of people who thought like me, that on every occasion working together is always preferable to working apart.
Our long-term vision is an idealistic one, but it’s backed up by considered policy. Have you read an *entire* Alliance manifesto?
I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t…(they’re comprehensive :) )
But they’re there - and you can find evidence-based policy on any number of issues, not just the Nolan-worthy ones. You’ll also find members willing to discuss our policies at length with you, should you wish. When we say ‘evidence-based’, we’re always happy to talk this through – it’s through informed discourse that progress arises.
The anger I felt that led me to join Alliance quickly developed into a genuine desire to see a better Northern Ireland, and to be a part of that change. If like me you’re angry, despondent, searching for hope?
Consider Alliance, you just may find what you’re looking for.
I know I did.