It is with great sorrow that we see the Stormont Institutions suspended, less than one year into the Mandate. This is a serious indictment on our current government’s ability to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.
It all started with the revelations over the RHI Scheme. As a formal Opposition, the Ulster Unionists joined with the SDLP in calling for Arlene Foster to temporarily step aside while a Public Inquiry investigated what is the single biggest financial scandal in the history of Northern Ireland; almost half a billion pounds of projected overspend, with us, the taxpayer, footing the bill.
The selfish politicking of both Sinn Fein and the DUP, and their steadfast refusal to engage in serious dialogue has pushed the Assembly to breaking point and they have now forced another election on the people. We now stand at a crossroads and it is for the people of Northern Ireland to decide our direction of travel. Ask yourself, what will it be, more of the same, or something better?
The upcoming election is the opportunity to make things work. Sinn Fein and the DUP have produced nothing of value after 10 years in government and have staggered from scandal to scandal. I believe that the people of this country deserve a government which works for them dealing with real life day-to-day issues; such as health, education and the economy.
Your vote is your voice. Your vote can give Northern Ireland the chance it deserves, that is a government which will accept accountability and responsibility by putting you, the people, first.
I am proud to be from this country. I am proud to be a part of a rich, diverse culture which is shared by all, not just one subset of the community. I believe that Unionism should deliver for everyone, regardless of race, creed or identity. Hard line ultra-unionists will continue to support belligerent short-sighted political gamesmanship, whilst forward-thinking unionists will be pushing our country to greater prosperity, eager to work with our colleagues across the table to do what’s right for Northern Ireland.
The fact that the people of Lagan Valley elected me last year is truly humbling. Over the past eight months I have been giving my best efforts to provide first-rate assistance to everyone locally and to represent the Lagan Valley in Stormont.
It is my great privilege, once again, to put myself before the electorate. I urge everyone in Lagan Valley to turn out to vote on the 2nd March and to grasp this opportunity to change the face of Northern Ireland and its institutions for the better.