‘Enough is enough’ was the message this week from a Dromore-based political party calling on people to step up and shape the governance it says they deserve.
With Stormont in the grip of crisis, ‘Democracy First’ - formed in Dromore some 18 months ago - is urging people to come forward as potential election candidates.
The party’s sole candidate in last year’s local government elections, Dromore man and former Alliance Party councillor Frazer McCammond, said this week there could be no prosperity until old enmities, deep-seated mistrust and commitments to deal with paramilitaries and victims had been dealt with.
“These are ultimately issues which must be dealt with by political agreement,” he said. “Hearts and minds are another matter. Language uttered, such as ‘rogues’ and ‘renegades’, speak only to the old bitterness that most of us yearn to escape.”
According to Mr McCammond Northern Ireland has for some months gone effectively without government and has now been plunged into “uncertain political times”, with wisdom, pragmatism, compassion and common sense “sacrificed once again at the altar of sectarianism”.
There could be no moving on, he said, with “the same old faces and the same old diehard attitudes”.
“The people of Northern Ireland have been failed and they deserve much more,” he said, “but the people of Northern Ireland have to play their part.”
He went on: “The electorate may say ‘there is no one to vote for’; accepted. So let’s make that possible.
“It is of no use to offer one or two candidates; the established parties must be taken on full frontal. Democracy First is therefore appealing to you the public to consider putting yourselves forward as potential candidates, right across Northern Ireland, whether for an immediate or May 2016 election.
“Let us field at least 36 candidates. Let people concerned with the daily realities that impact on our lives, jobs and the economy, education, health, justice and protection of the vulnerable, take control of our governance and consign the relics of the past to the past.”
Mr McCammond said it was difficult to understand how the latest round of “posturing and political brinkmanship” benefited the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, whom no single party could claim to represent.
“By far the largest constituency in Northern Ireland,” he said, “is that which chooses not to vote, or to spoil their vote. At the 2011 Assembly Election 46.3% of the total electorate chose this path, the highest non-participative vote since the first Assembly election in 1998, which stood at 31.24%.
“Since 1998 the percentage of the total electorate not exercising their franchise has increased by a staggering 48%. . .”
The one-time councillor painted a picture of a single community of different cultures, each unconditionally accepting of the other, dipping into and enjoying each other’s culture without fear or recrimination.
“I am tired of the rhetoric,” he said, “whether it be Republican or Unionist; I am more than tired; I am determined, as an individual, that there is a better way.
“As the father of three children, two of whom have left these shores forever, due to lack of opportunity, I say to our politicians they should be ashamed; they are a shame and a disgrace and their time should be up.”