Northern Ireland Vote 2011: Devolved elections campaign round-up

Ed Jacobs looks at the issues, policies and parties in the Northern Ireland election.

With voters due to elect new devolved bodies today, Left Foot Forward rounds up the guest articles carried over the past few weeks from the devolved nations and looks back at the week’s campaigning.

Writing for Left Foot Forward, SDLP MP, Dr Alasdair McDonnell said of the campaign in Northern Ireland:

“We are going into the assembly election of May 5th on the slogan ‘Uniting People, Building Prosperity’, but it is much more than a slogan; it is a summary of where we are at as a society in Northern Ireland and where we must go.

“I have been fighting elections since the 1970s and until now, every one of them revolved around our past and differing views of the past…

“At last, we can have an election about our future. Canvassers on the doorsteps are being questioned as never before about policy and most of the big questions hinge on the issues of cuts, jobs and paying the bills.”

Putting the economy at the heart of the party’s campaign, he continued:

“No matter what social problem we seek to tackle, the one thing we can be certain of is that the availability of enough secure, well-paid employment will always make it easier to find a solution. This is the new politics, this is our politics.”

Meanwhile, the sight this week of masked dissidents parading on the TV, threatening the lives of police officers and raising the prospect of trouble during the Queens visit to Ireland was a disturbing reminder of the days of the “troubles”. Political leaders of the republican movement and leaders of the catholic church sent a strong and united message – that violence will not be allowed to derail peaceful elections.

For Sinn Fein, deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness said of those threatening violence:

“Irish people are united in support of the Good Friday, St Andrews and Hillsborough Agreements, attempting to overturn the will of the people is not only futile it is stupid and selfish.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin meanwhile used his Easter message to argue:

“The message of Easter, which we proclaim, challenges – head on – those in our society who espouse political violence, criminal violence or the violence of corrupt exploitation. It challenges those who fall into the purposeless violence we sadly encounter on our streets.”

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