Politics Made Simple Part 8: What are the Biggest Issues People will be Voting for in the 5th of May Northern Ireland Assembly Election?

Northern Ireland has a habit of voting for Parties that stand for Green and Orange issues, which has worked for every Party, especially the DUP and Sinn Féin. There’s been signs that might be changing, however, as both Parties lost votes after the 2019 General Election, but still, there’s signs that this might still be the way the public will vote.

You could also say that the Northern Ireland Protocol is also getting mixed into orange politics, as one Unionist Party say they’re interested in dealing with the Protocol through negotiations, while the others think it’s better to collapse the government to sort it.

But what are the other big issues that people will be voting for in the Northern Ireland Assembly Election? In this blog, I’m going to lie out the big issues people will be voting for tomorrow.

1: The Northern Ireland Protocol

Although it may prove not to be the most important issue, the NI Protocol is still a big issue, especially in the Unionist / Loyalist community.

For anyone who doesn’t know what it is, the Protocol is part of the Brexit deal that has been signed by Westminster, which has caused a lot of division since it was negotiated and signed into law in 2020.

This means that those who see themselves as Unionist / Loyalist see themselves being separated from their own country — though Northern Ireland is still part of the UK — which they expect there would be uproar over if the same border was put down the island of Ireland.

2: Cost of Living Crisis

2022 has seen the cost of living go up in the UK, with petrol prices, the cost of heating, the cost of food and more going up.

With no one being in power in Stormont, there is no one making the decisions required to lead people through the difficult times where they can’t afford the basic needs, which those who aren’t rich will definitely feel.

3: Fixes for the Health Service

Like every other country in the world, Northern Ireland is on its way out of a global pandemic.

Every country is facing the same problems in how they can return to a new form of “normal”, but the difference is that the NHS has been struggling in the UK for years, with the Northern Ireland Health Service being especially underfunded.

Although Robin Swann has been relevantly successful as Health Minister throughout the pandemic, cracks have been noticeable since the beginning of the year.

There’s been problems in patients and their families being able to get through to emergency services over the phone, as well as with availability of ambulances, a shortage of beds, and more.

As well as this, there’s also been a move to take a house’s ownership out of an elderly person’s mortgage when they move into a nursing home, although this has been slightly more controversial.

4: Climate Change

The world is in a climate emergency, which governments are in a hurry to get sorted.

Yes; there are problems with various issues to do with Climate Change, from electric cars being expensive for a lot of people, to making sure Climate Change is accessible for disabled people, and making sure that no one is left behind in the discussions.

5. Employment in a Post-Pandemic World

The Coronavirus Pandemic meant non emergency sectors starting to work from home, which some sectors have now decided to keep in place, while others plan to return to working as they normally would.

However, the pandemic also saw a rise of people who were made redundant, who have remained unemployed, and also stopped the employment of young people who wanted to get started in the industry of their choice, especially in the disability community.

6: Making Northern Ireland More Accessible

The Disability Discrimination Act has been in place for over 25 years, but despite how much the lives of disabled people have got mainly better since the 1990s, they still aren’t completely without discrimination.

While legislation was passed to get disabled changing places in all public buildings, there are still a number of places that don’t have them, noticeably, the Grand Opera House in Belfast.

But it isn’t even just changing places facilities that would make Northern Ireland more accessible.

There has to be a big discussion around how cars can become accessible — especially giving how we are talking about how the Climate Debate can become more accessible for disabled people and there are signs that — if an electric car is bought by someone in the disabled community — it would also have to have a ‘charges while driving’ feature.

I’d also be interested in having a debate on whether or not every day technology should be added into the Disability Discrimination Act, so no technology company can tell a disabled child that they aren’t allowed to use the same technology as their siblings and their friends.

7: The Single-Sex Toilets, Sports and Communities Debate

Trans people of course have the right to use the toilet, as they do when it comes to them feeling like they want to join sports teams, and everything else they want to be part of.

But likewise, women have the right to have female only spaces, sports teams and groups that they get involved with, as do men.

As this topic is an ongoing one, it will obviously be a part of what might win or loose Parties the vote, with some even deciding to vote for the Party who decides that maybe having a mixed bathroom and a mixed team or group is the best way to move forward, without changing as well the ones which stay single sex.

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