In case you hadn’t realised, the good people of Northern Ireland are preparing to go to the polls tomorrow for yet another election (the fifth major election in less than 4 years by my reckoning).
(I don’t normally do blatantly political posts, and maybe I’m a fool, but I am genuinely passionate about my land, so spent half an hour coming up with this before public posting provoked by tomorrow’s election (did you like the alliteration of the letter ‘p’ there?) I hope if nothing else it stimulates yours and my thought processes some more. It’s not intended to offend, it simply tickled my creative juices a bit to quickly pen it, so please be kind and take it up with me in private or private message if you know me in real life and want, but not on social media as such, cheers).
As I sit back and listen to what mostly sounds like the, ‘same old, same old’ hyperbole and frankly “BS”, (you catch my drift without the full expletive) from Northern Ireland’s so called politicians, I ongoingly get perturbed (at best) by the growing crisis bubbling under the surface in these shores of this land not only I, but the world, loves so well.
The phrase, “Northern Ireland is shafted without miracles of God,” keeps coming to mind. Many of you will have heard me say it in recent times. I can’t help it. I see the coming disasters on the horizon, without divine help.
HOWEVER, I don’t mean it totally negatively. No, in fact, not at all. I’m being more than a little facetious.
You see, it would be entirely negative, if I didn’t have faith for the latter. But…call me crazy…I somehow still do. ( And I’m playing my part in that by prayer and fasting, by the way, in the weeks leading up to this election, for those of you of the Christian ‘ilk’ reading this, who say you believe in that sort of thing, though sometimes I’m not so sure, by the evident severe lack of such spiritual disciplines Jesus himself considered basic, in everyday real Christianity in most Christian groupings in Northern Ireland).
This is actually a really important election, despite all the voter apathy and fatigue we are all suffering from after, as I wrote, four years in a row of elections. But not voting is not an option for me. Too many people fought too much for people like me – women like me especially – to have the right to vote, and I for one, don’t take that lightly.
Let me give you five reasons, (of many more) then, why my beloved Northern Ireland is a bit shafted in my meager opinion without those miracles and perhaps more than a little bit of divine wisdom and help: –
1). The recent Education Act, agreed at Stormont in the sitting prior to last May’s election agreed by all parties, arguably effectively enshrines in legislation the division we see segregating all of Northern Ireland’s children and young people. It will, if anything, facilitate decades more division, rather than yielding to allow for any of those massive sectarian educational divisions you and I were brought up in if you’re from Northern Ireland and reading this, to ever hope to end. Put it like this: it’s much harder now than five years ago, to change things, now that the Education Act of 2014 was passed and will remain in place for decades to come. It may facilitate so called “shared” education, but does sharing your often dilapidated buildings really fuel the removal of deeply rooted sectarian education? One thinks not. An insistence upon continuing to have solely Catholic schools, together with then the flip side, of almost entirely Protestant schools, will mean little can – or will – change in terms of bringing people – children – together, despite being almost 20 years since the 1998 Agreement.
How can a society ever change or progress from sectarian conflict if we still educate our children as ‘Catholics’ and ‘Protestants,’ in totally segregated, (basically sectarian) education? The Catholic Church is wonderful in many ways, but how can we continue to allow it to refuse to take its hands off the control it still enjoys of education in this land? I’m open to being challenged on this, but to me it seems like the elephant in the room, and no one really wants to do anything about it. If you don’t believe me, check out the details of the 2014 Act for yourself – look up ‘Northern Ireland Education Act 2014’ and go from there. I’ll be happy to have a coffee with you if it’s possible sometime to discuss it further, even if to maturely agree to disagree. (I’m also totally open to having myself thoroughly and heartily challenged and changed, by the way!).
2). “Brexit means Brexit..”Isn’t that what we’ve been hearing for months now, from dear young St. Teresa? In other words, friends, like it or loathe it, Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (whether people like it or not), is exiting the European Union, together with the rest of the UK, and thus, we now find ourselves at the forefront of the frontier between not only Britain and the EU, but also EUROPE AND THE USA.
We will suffer in the limbo-land of all this, and the uncertainty ongoing. Whilst I actually think longer term Brexit can be a very good thing, economically, for the UK as a whole, Northern Ireland herself will struggle to reap the benefits, quite probably again, unless there are miracles, and will be hammered short term at least, with the border issues, and the ‘who-knows-what,’ to come. But. I’m also very open to hope, and the great economic possibilities being the frontier between Europe and USA could bring. Why not? Donald or no Donald.
Without some near miracles, though, a very costly border that is most definitely going to have to be erected, (hard, soft, whatever you like, there will definitely be a border, don’t let the politicians fool you into thinking otherwise, as things simply can’t be as they are, under the coming British exit from the EU). It’s going to bring changes, and frankly, most likely in the short term at least, more hardship and upheaval for the people of ‘our wee land,’ most notably in places like Derry/Londonderry, Strabane, Newry and the likes.
Does that mean we should fail to accept the referendum result? No, again, folks, frankly I personally don’t think it should. We can’t accept all the benefits of being part of the UK, and then try to say a loving ‘F-off’ when it comes to a democratic UK-wide decision most people in Northern Ireland don’t like. It’s what democracy is. But failing to accept the decision is like what I affectionately call, ‘spoiled brat-syndrome’ – like a spoiled brat child wanting all the perks of being a child of a millionaire, but screaming with demanding ‘bratish-ness’ when he/she does not get his/her own way. If we carry the Queen’s head in our pockets, and spend her, we should be subject to her Government and the UK-wide people’s democratic decisions. Or would you rather have Communism or some other dire alternative? I’m pretty sure I know I wouldn’t. Like I said, feel free to disagree with me. I’d like it very much if we could still be friends.
3). Further serious budget cuts are coming in the year 2019-2020 (allegedly at this point in time not to health and education, but to every other Stormont department). Time will tell if health and education will really be spared.
This is not prophetic or negative, or predictive, folks, this is hard fact. Again, already available in the public domain for anyone who cares to access and research to find out about it. £400 million already at least is set to be cut again by then, and most probably that figure will, if anything, go up, what with the RHI scandal set to lose us potentially half a billion, and much other financial mismanagement from our elected representatives.
This, again, does not bode well for a small, hugely public-sector reliant Province such as ours in Northern Ireland which is already struggling extremely heavily, and with so much poverty and lack of opportunities to even think about creating prosperity. (The ‘unemployment figures falling’ mantra recently spouted by Government departments is of course because of all the emigration taking place, meaning who’s going to even BE in Northern Ireland to PAY taxes in ten/ twenty years time, to pay for all the elderly / social care going to be needed?
This is never to mention what half a billion could do for our sick NHS in Northern Ireland and deeply economically deprived education system. How many hospital operations and treatments for patients could this not have funded? How many schools properly resourced and teachers not faced with losing their jobs?
It’s a wee bit frightening folks, or at least if could be, and perhaps should be, if you or I care about our land at all, and don’t have any kind of faith for miracles, answers to prayer and non-linear solutions. It’s time to wake up to how bad things are , and how bad they are going to get, without crying out and humbling ourselves, especially if you’re of the praying Christian variety, and if you’re not, well no matter: It’s going to take creativity in leadership and it’s going to take courage. At the minute, the somewhat depressing thing I find, is that I am struggling to see much of either in the public domain in leadership terms in Northern Ireland at present. Vision – or even verbal communication of unsubstantiated vision – is ongoingly severely lacking – unless (or even) if you want just a utopian United Ireland, devoid even of any real figures or reality even to make that happen. And if you don’t? Well, frankly folks, you’ve not got much else positive to shout about. Even the whole election campaign for many parties is built on different totally off-putting varieties of,’vote for us not them’ speeches stuck rooted in the past, proclaiming orange and green negativity, not any kind of postive leadership or actual courageous vision, the many decent good people of this land deserve.
Many of our services are set to be chopped even thinner, including fire services, ambulance services and police. It’s hard to predict what this country will even look like in five years time, but don’t count on seeing too many police officers, that’s for sure:
4) Don’t know about you, but the NHS experiences I, and my family and friends have been encountering in recent times in Northern Ireland are already beginning to be evidently seemingly the beginnings of, ‘cracking point.’
Many of you reading this will be working in it, and I deeply feel for you.
Wonderful doctors and nurses and others working in the NHS are doing their damn best to help prop things up, but again, frankly, without further heavy investment and funding which simply at present is not there, things simply soon won’t be able to go on as they are.
GP’s are are few and far between, and most of the often wonderful ones who remain are mostly in their 50’s, and set to retire in the next 10 years. Waiting lists – as we all know unless we’ve been living as ostriches for the recent past – are all spiraling. (I waited over a year for an acute physio referal, for example, and that’s totally minor). Does anyone really believe the way we were brought up as children with the enormous blessing of free health care can really continue as was? Especially under an ongoing Conservative Government? One thinks not…
5). Abortion has often been used in this election both by the politicians and their supporters as a very emotive issue to stir up public sentiment, but it’s a further sideline from some of the frightening financial figures which are being hidden and pushed back through the ongoing absurdity of this election even ever taking place in the first place. £5million extra being wasted on this unnecessary election for starters.
Abortion is hugely important,of course – don’t get me wrong, and I am totatally pro-life, for the record, and that comes with a very real consideration for the mother, too. Any mother, however, worth her salt will choose to give her baby life, and put her baby’s life and needs ahead of her own ones. And as for the term ‘fatal foetal abnormality’, well, don’t get me started. That’s not even a medical term(!) and already a declaration of DEATH right over the child to start with.
If I, for example, had accepted declarations of death, even FROM medical professionals -doctors – using REAL medical terms, half of my family would literally be dead and wiped out, including my dear niece and nephew, but as it is, they are ALL still alive, and doing well thanks very much, supernaturally, against ALL natural and scientific odds, through prayer and fasting and declaring the opposite of the declarations of death projected onto us by (hopefully!) well meaning medics.
In the case of abortion, and the so-called (media and Govenment used) term, ‘fatal foetal abnormality,’ I simply struggle to tolerate that term, largely created by, and certainly latched onto by, my media colleagues, and used deliberately to sound intelligent and authoritative, but illegitimately denying any ‘less than 100%’ baby in the womb a chance to live, before it’s even been born.Words are powerful, and if you declare death before birth, of course you’re going to help the baby along to death almost inevitably!
I happen to know a number of people personally – female mummy friends, and one in particular, who have HAD BABIES – not mere detached, unemotional ‘foetuses’ – who later died within days, and they have stated categorically they would never ever wish to have cut short the time they had with their beautiful babies, born and treasured, even though so tragically cut short. I for one am proud to be from a part of the Western world which has valued lives of the unborn enough to not kill them off, before they even have a chance to be cherished and loved. I believe passionately in speaking up for those who have no voice, and what more vulnerable member of society needing this, than babies in the womb? It’s easy to say let’s have mothers have rights etc, but a lot of that is totally selfish BS, to put it bluntly.And yes lads, this is coming from a woman of child-bearing age. There I go again using short form expletive. There goes my halo. But that’s how strongly I feel about it. Of course there are tough situations, that are most certainly not easy, and I would never wish to be in them, but if abortions laws had their way as exist in a lot of Western countries, there’s a fair chance I might not be an Auntie to my amazing, life -giving, Spurs loving nephew. As I said folks, it’s an emotive issue, and yes very important, but the focus upon it is also to detract from other matters, because of that very reason.
Don’t let the issue of abortion hide the other issues at stake, and in, this election.
There are many, and yes it’s a challenge to wade through them and vote wisely with what feel like often poor information, and poor choices in front of us. However, worth the wading.
(Have some sympathy for me, I will be at home to vote tomorrow, in the totally male-dominated North Antrim right wing constituency, where it’s rare to even see any woman at all near the ballot boxes at the end, and most certainly not a successful one. ) Maybe, just maybe, one day that will change.
In the mean time, all can I can do is go vote anyway folks. Like it or loathe them, this system and these current choices are the ones in front of us, and we do better to participate in democracy than just (understandably) moaning about it amidst defiantly or lazily not.
God bless Northern Ireland….and can we all be thankful we don’t have Donald Trump to come and be our next leader?! (Joke – before you all go hammering me!) Voter fatigue may be very real, but at least after this one, surely we won’t have another for at least another four years?
Or will that require another miracle…
(Slievenacloy, with sun over Belfast).