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Vox pop: Reaction on street to another Assembly election in Northern Ireland

By Allan Preston

Commuters on their way home from Belfast last night minutes after a new Assembly election was called were as unsurprised by the news as they were disappointed.

Many had felt it was inevitable that Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire would be forced to call a second poll in the space of a year after weeks of squabbling at Stormont.

Speaking on Glengall Street outside the Europa Bus Centre, Lynsey Alexander (33), from Magheralin, said bickering between the DUP and Sinn Fein left her expecting nothing less.

"It makes me fed up but no more than usual, there's usually something going on that's very frustrating," she said.

"I suppose you get used to it after a while, you don't really have high expectations."

Newry man Jonathan O'Hagan (27) said the crisis was of the DUP's making.

"I'm not surprised, the Assembly doesn't function at the best of times so why would I be surprised when a huge mistake causes it to fall down," he said.

"I think the blame is more or less solely with the DUP. I don't think the other parties could do anything other than ask them to take steps to resolve it, but they didn't, so this is the result."

He added: "I will vote, but I don't think there's ever a difference in the result unless there's new parties involved."

Jason Brownlee (28), from Annahilt, said without agreement an election was the only choice.

"I'd be tempted to hand it back to Westminster at this stage as they can't agree anything on anything," he said.

"I will vote, I hope it will count for a bit of change from the status quo. For me, I'd like a couple of the smaller parties coming to the front to give a different perspective. The two major parties are just at loggerheads so we need some fresh opinions and fresh debate; it can only help things move along."

Outside the Europa Hotel on Great Victoria Street Tracey Convey (21), from Omagh, said she didn't vote in last year's election and mightn't in this year's.

"It does annoy me, everyone has their job and responsibilities, most people don't get to just walk away from it. I actually feel less encouraged to vote this time around," she said.

"They all seem really uninterested in working together.

"I don't see why I should be interested if they're not."

Grainne Glenny (25), from Holywood, said the RHI heating scandal was merely the straw that broke the camel's back.

"There's been other pressures with things like Brexit and it's just an accumulation of various pressures. No one was happy anyway and I don't think the RHI scandal is the reason for this.

"I think there was a disenchantment among people before that anyway."

She added: "I'll definitely vote. I'd be more Alliance or independent-orientated, but it will probably always be Sinn Fein and DUP, won't it?"

Joanna Henry (22), from Ballymena, said she and many other young people felt alienated from politics here.

"I don't really like the DUP even though I'm from Ballymena. Their social policies aren't something I want for Northern Ireland," she said.

"I've never voted in an election, I just feel a bit disenfranchised by politics in Northern Ireland. A lot of my generation aren't interested in politics because it's just the same all the time."

Gillian Connolly (35), from Moira, said: "It's almost like they think we've nothing better to do, no jobs to go to, because they won't do theirs.

"If we can get out of our usual traditional mindset of voting we might get somewhere, otherwise we'll just stay on the same merry-go-round."

Will Mackay (34), from Bangor, suggested: "It makes me wonder if Stormont could be run more efficiently by the private sector than the politicians."

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