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Voter fatigue setting in - weary outlook on Northern Ireland streets


Mr and Mrs Jones

Mr and Mrs Jones

Michelle Dunn with Jessica Hollin and Oscar Brown

Michelle Dunn with Jessica Hollin and Oscar Brown


Mr and Mrs Jones

It'll be the seventh time voters will get their say at polls across Northern Ireland in just three years, but are the public getting tired of being asked what they think or do repeated elections keep people engaged in politics?

With just 10 months between the last two Assembly elections and a six-week countdown to the next General Election, Northern Ireland could be due a dose of voter fatigue.

We hit the streets in Belfast and Londonderry to find a mixed reaction from voters.

Retired health care worker Ann Murray from Antrim was one of those in Belfast who said she will vote based on her principles but is getting tired of it all.

"I think the whole community is getting sick of voting," she said.

"They look at all their concerns and they can see they have done absolutely nothing about any of them. People don't know where they stand with rates and the health service is absolutely atrocious now. It feels like nothing is ever done and all this time is wasted on elections at the moment. Then it takes so long to get things brought back to normal afterwards. But they have been given time to work things out and that time has been extended again and again so unfortunately an election does seem to be the only way forward."

Michelle Dunn in Belfast said she had little faith much would change.

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"It will be interesting, I will vote again but I'll probably stick with the same ones I have voted for before unless something big happens. I would love to think things will change with politics here, but I don't think they will," she said.

Alex Linton (24), a welder from Ballymoney, has never voted before and said he doesn't intend to.

"I'm never really interested in it. I feel like if I was to vote it wouldn't really make much of a difference anyway so I don't bother with it and I probably won't vote the next time either," he said.

But friend Zoe Dunbar (22), who works in insurance and is also from Ballymoney, is more optimistic.

She said she felt the same way until she voted for the first time in the EU referendum.

"I'd never voted before but I went along with my mum because I felt like I needed to vote in that one and gave it a go. Since then I've been interested in it and decided to vote in the Assembly election, too. I think I will vote the next time, too. Some people say they're fed up with it, but it takes two minutes to do and it means you have your say."

Mrs Jones from Belfast has other reasons to vote.

She said: "It's important for us to vote because I'm a woman and we fought hard enough for our vote so we need to use it. I think people are fed up with what we have at the moment, but I think we'll have more tit-for-tat politics so I expect that will push the turnout up."

Caelan Monaghan (27), a cinema worker from Belfast, said he would feel compelled to vote if he thought more progressive socialist parties would get elected. Meanwhile, in Londonderry, Loren Bonner (54) felt that the calling of another election is "an absolute disgrace".

"I am fed up with politics, particularly watching the politicians in Stormont. They should be doing the job they have been elected to do. Theresa May said she would not call an election until 2020, and now look at us, going to polls again," he said.

"Theresa May couldn't give a damn about us in Northern Ireland. Our talks here are going nowhere and now all the parties will be in battle mode. It's ridiculous. But I will go out and vote. It's my responsibility."

Susan Ferry (60) felt voting in a general election didn't change much.

"I would rather have a local election than a general one. I don't want us to go to direct rule. I honestly don't think that voting in the General Election will make one iota of difference. I am totally against Brexit and we voted against it in the North, but look where that got us. I don't think our MPs have a voice to make a difference and to have a say," she said.

"Saying that, I am going to vote. I have six children and have always told them that we fought hard for that vote, not to waste it."

Aideen Hughes (37) said she felt people should turn their anger about what's going on into action.

"People assume that others will do it for them, that others will vote. Look what happened with Brexit," she said.

"Theresa May is sitting in London in her jewels dictating to everyone.

"The money she spends on one of her skirts could help refugee children. I am sick of it. People are in power because people put them there, either by voting or by not voting. I am definitely going out to vote."

Steven McGonigle (34) said he will vote despite having "serious political fatigue".

"I'm not bothered about elections. To be honest I am totally sick of politics. I hear people yapping about Sinn Fein or the DUP and the UUP on the radio and I just switch it off," he said.

"People should just get on with it and sort it out. It seems we have had just one election after another recently and scandals about wood burners and Brexit. I am fed up with the whole thing, I have serious political fatigue. I'll still vote, though. You've no right to complain if you don't vote."

Aaron McKeever (32) said he thinks Mrs May has made a mistake calling this election.

"I think Theresa May has made a huge mistake, a technical miscalculation," he said. "People who are Remain will use this opportunity to voice their opinion and the Leave vote will sit back on their laurels. I think that enough parties will end up with enough seats in parliament to, by proxy, do away with Brexit. I will vote in this election."