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New social media app hoping to get Northern Ireland politics SUSSD

By Jonny Bell

Launching a new online social media platform is never an easy task, and getting it to stick is another matter, but when you base it around Northern Ireland politics and at a time when we could be faced with a prolonged period of suspension it makes it all the more difficult.

And that's just what entrepreneur Callum Curry has done.

The 25-year-old Lisburn man has created SUSSD. A new social media platform aimed at getting more people engaged in local politics.

It allows people to have their say on issues scheduled for debate in the Assembly and to vote on them before the elected members do.

"This will revolutionise polling, we think, as well as help with transparency and accountability of the political system, " said Callum.

"It will give a comparison as to how some of the public feel about an issue and how politicians vote on it. On the flip side it will also give politicians and parties an idea of where public opinion is at."

Callum has been developing the app for the past two years and since its soft launch in December has attracted over 1,000 users.

"It has been testing and developing well. We pull information from Stormont on what is happening and make it accessible - basically take all the jargon out - and then let the people decide.

"On the data we collect we will be able to say, for example, this 18-year-old living in this area feels this way.

"It is fair to say results may not be representative in the early stages but once exposure increases and our user numbers go up it will get better.

"And we thought 'SUSSD' as we are trying to help people make sense of politics."

After dropping out of university, Callum worked in promotions before going on his own to start up the app.  He is a member of Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum which brings together young people who are helping to contribute to their communities and a business mentor for Young Enterprise.

His app idea emerged through the Facebook group he established, Moving Forward in Northern Ireland.

He admits he had little interest in either tech or politics before taking the plunge on working on the app full time.

"But it was something that I felt was needed and after working solely on it I have a real passion for politics now, it is something I am focused on. There is a social network for your social life, for business but why not one for civic life? It is something that is needed.

"You see today people on Facebook and Twitter saying they are out voting, but maybe never mention politics any other time so they do have an interest.

"There is a real problem - not just in Northern Ireland but across the world - in getting young people engaged in politics and that's what we hope this app will do.

"It uses Facebook and Twitter to share results and opinions so it is not just standalone so results could go viral."

With many predicting the suspension of the devolved institutions at Stormont for a period after Thursday's vote, it remains to be seen how the app will fair.

But for Callum he is using the time to concentrate on growing its reach with local council areas.

"Everything happens for a reason," he added.

The app is available only on Apple IOS at the moment, with an Android version in the pipeline expected in the coming weeks

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