Belfast Telegraph

Lives of people haven't stood still despite 1,000 days without government

SDLP councillor Carl Whyte with his daughter Stephanie
SDLP councillor Carl Whyte with his daughter Stephanie
Jen Banks and her son Lorcan
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

One thousand days is a long time in anyone's life and while Stormont sits idle, the lives of people in Northern Ireland have kept going.

Belfast City Council SDLP councillor Carl Whyte became a father and was elected in May's local elections since the collapse of the Assembly on January 16, 2017. His two-year-old daughter Stephanie has lived her entire life without a government being in place and that was what drove Carl to put his name forward in the elections.

"It's a daily reminder to me that the length of time just gets longer and longer," he said.

"Part of the reason I ran for election is because I was always involved in politics and I remember thinking to myself that when my child was born I wouldn't be interested any more because I would be focusing on her.

"It actually made me even more angry about the way things were because when you have a child, your stake in society changes and you start thinking about the place where your daughter is growing up and hopefully flourishing."

Samuel Watson (22) graduated from Ulster University in July with a law degree and gained employment a one month later.

The Co Fermanagh man expressed his frustration that he has "no representation" as his MLAs aren't working, while his MP Michelle Gildernew adheres to Sinn Fein's Westminster abstentionist policy.

Jen Banks (34) from Downpatrick feels her son Lorcan (2), who was born just four days after Stormont's collapse and suffers from cystic fibrosis, could have benefited from the drug Orkambi if MLAs had been in Stormont to "make it happen".

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland Roisin Foster, explained that in those 1,000 days the charity has supported 15,500 local people affected by cancer, provided 11,000 counselling sessions, supported 664 children whose parent has cancer and answered 5,500 NurseLine calls.

Yesterday the Belfast Telegraph asked readers to share what they had achieved:

∆ Stuart Canning from Londonderry graduated with a 2.1 in law from Ulster University, bought his first home and started the adoption process.

∆ Kirsty Meredith from Newtownards completed the London Marathon, lost two stone in weight, visited the Maldives three times and bought a house.

∆ John Corr moved to America, moved back to Northern Ireland and then on to Sweden.

∆ Thomas Clarke from Bangor bought his first house, got married and now has a two-week-old baby boy.

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