A message to young voters in Northern Ireland — Why NOT to vote Sinn Fein or DUP at this crucial election

For young voters in Northern Ireland who come across this, I need give you no grand introduction about the circumstance that has led to this election. The DUP under the leadership/dictatorship of lord Foster royally, pun intended, mismanaged the financial arrangements of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme and Sinn Fein, unashamedly portraying itself as the virtuous champion of democracy as it so desperately tries to do both North and South of the border, collapsed the government.

In the weeks that have followed the government’s collapse, both parties (along with others) have exchanged heated verbal skirmishes concerning not just the scandal, but also its implications for the next government in what is looking evermore like a bleaker period for UK politics. The unfortunate reality is that that next government is likely to be another partnership between the DUP as the largest party and Sinn Fein as second largest.

Amidst the public outrage over the scandal and the confusion surrounding Northern Ireland’s uncertain future in a post-Brexit United Kingdom, an important issue has been overlooked — one which is unlikely to resonate with younger voters. That issue is that the scandal and the immediate government collapse represent yet another glaring example of a government partnership which is about as stable and effective as Donald Trump’s hair piece.

This partnership has a proven record of not working out — whether it is the Assembly’s suspension between 2002 and 2006, its inability to function properly during the dispute over Justice Department appointments, or even the government’s decision to place the ‘fleg’ issue at the top of its agenda; all of these represent issues of a bygone era of Northern Ireland politics for young voters because these were issues that were before their time and, therefore, it was a political environment that they were unable to shape.

The point I am looking to put across is this: with each scandal, each government screw-up, that has passed and put the future of Northern Ireland in a precarious political position, both Sinn Fein and the DUP have been re-elected with even BIGGER majorities in government by more mature generations of voters. What this says for Northern Ireland is that regardless of what happens, regardless of how big the scandal is, regardless of how much collateral damage is done to public services over a failed government partnership; that very partnership will be rewarded by their communities at the next election.

More importantly, what this highlights is that generations of voters before you have given both Sinn Fein and the DUP an undemocratic prerogative to push forward their respective agendas to the most extreme, and hold democracy at ransom with the threat of collapsing the institutions should their demands not be met. In that, they both require eachother not only to survive but also to grow. Sinn Fein requires the DUP to be at its most extreme to exploit it amongst its own constituency, and the DUP, likewise, needs Sinn Fein to do the same.

Stormont, and the liberal democratic features that should come with it, have become essentially one giant political chess piece for both parties to advance their own selfish agendas and wield their undemocratic prerogatives, , instead of what the GFA envisaged Stormont to be — mainly, an arena that would create dialogue between two damaged communities in the hope of a more prosperous future.

Should the DUP and Sein Fein get in once again this time around, we will be feeding this undeserved, undemocratic right that they have unjustly obtained. Moreover, their likely unwillingness to work together again will lead to what we all should dread — essentially being babysat by an Oxbridge-educated, Tory twat who happened to get the short end of the stick with regards to cabinet appointments — Direct Rule. We deserve better!

If you are a young voter reading this; if this is your first or second time engaging in the political process via voting, then this is your chance to end that undeserved prerogative. Both parties have used the unstable, fragile historical nature of Northern Ireland as exploitative weapons to advance their own visions of their own futures and it can only be stopped by a newer generation of voters.

Use your vote wisely this time around — do NOT vote for the DUP or Sinn Fein at this crucial election. Use it as a benchmark of change; use it as a means to protest against the democratic injustice that has come before now.