“If We Refuse to Exercise Our Right to Vote, The Stormont Parties Will Win and Things will Get Worse” writes Aontú candidate Liam Reichenberg
It is an enormous tragedy that so many people are disillusioned with the democratic process. Every day on the canvas trail I meet people who tell me they will not vote on Thursday. People are suffering enormously, from the Cost-Of-Living crisis to lack of healthcare to housing, we’re in bad shape.
When the word “Stormont” is mentioned, people on their doorsteps become uncomfortable. Stormont is the cause of their distress. Constant bickering between political parties, is leading to a situation where the executive is non-existent and civil servants are left to make political decisions on spending and cuts which are destroying lives in this constituency. MLAs are continuing to draw a wage despite not going to work.
Aontú is a new party, which is promising political reform so that no party can tear down the executive in the future.
The thing which sets our party apart from other candidates in Newry is that none of us set out to become politicians – we were forced down this route, due to the disasters we’re witnessing all around us.
My colleague Sharon Loughran running in Newry is a paediatric A&E nurse in Daisy Hill hospital. She’s decided to run for the council having seen first-hand the state of our health service, and particularly in light of the threat posed to key surgery services there.
Rosemary McGlone is running for Aontú in Slieve Croob. She’s a secondary school teacher and is deeply concerned about the waiting lists for additional support and assessments for special educational needs. She’s witnessing parents who are already contending with the cost-of-living crisis who are being forced to pay out hundreds of pounds to have their child privately assessed. This is part of her motivation in getting involved in politics.
As for myself – Liam Reichenberg – I’ve decided to run because of the deteriorating situation in our health service. My own GP practice is closing because no GP will take it over due to the pressures faced by general practice and the health service. This pressure is in many ways linked to the lack of prompt secondary care at Daisy Hill Hospital. Other parties seem content on the removal of services from Daisy Hill Hospital in exchange for it becoming an elective hub. I am not. Daisy Hill Hospital should be a 1st class acute hospital, anything less is unacceptable.
I am angered that in a cost-of-living crisis our councillors have raised rates on us by 6%. I want to ensure the council is spending our hard-earned money productively and prudently.
It is hard to blame people for not wanting to vote – year after year political parties have promised change, only for us to be hurled into the same old story and dysfunction again and again. However, by not voting you are letting them win, you are showing the establishment parties that there are no consequences for their behaviour or for their neglect of this region.
Of course, I’m asking you to vote for Aontú – to vote for Liam Reichenberg, Sharon Loughran or Rosemary McGlone, but even if you decide not to vote for us, please do get out and vote – have your voice heard, and tell the Stormont parties that enough is enough.