25 May 2023 Edition
The power of democracy in snow and rain
Since last December’s selection conventions, Jemma Dolan, Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA and the constituency team have been knocking doors and campaigning for the May local elections
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In the realm of politics, an election campaign stands as a testament to the power of democracy and is a journey that ignites passions and sparks debates.
This campaign was no different to any other, it was a marathon and not a sprint. For councillors seeking re-election, they stood on their track record of hard work and delivery. New candidates had a different challenge. Nevertheless, both had to kick off officially somewhere and, for most, that was in December 2022 with selection conventions.
In my area of Fermanagh and Omagh – the DEAs of Enniskillen, Erne North, and Erne West – I had experience mixed with fresh faces in equal measure. Working on the campaigns of Tommy Maguire, Anthony Feely, Debbie Coyle, and John Feely who are all stalwarts at this stage and first-time candidates, but long-time activists, in Dermot Browne, Andrea McManus, Elaine Brough, and Declan McArdle.
December 2022 to May 2023 might seem like a long time, but with the volume of work that had to be done, we were not left idle. And let’s not mention the amount of times a registration drive or a canvass had to be cut short because it was snowing or raining!
With enthusiasm and determination, we set out to capture the hearts, minds, and votes of the electorate. With a focus on grassroots engagement, the feedback from most was that our door-to-door canvassing efforts are unique to us. Although challenging, it is our way to connect with the people we aim to represent and it is their chance to engage with us and their potential councillor. And nothing beats the feeling of a friendly smile as a door opens or the chance to set the record straight, after a fiery debate!
Although this was a local election campaign, and therefore was expected to have been focused on council issues, the main subject was the consequences of the lack of a functioning Assembly, such as the cuts to education, the state of our health service, and the dire road conditions.
Our election campaign embodied passion, hope, inclusivity, progressive change, and accountability. In this historic election, we painted a picture of a brighter future, where every individual is valued, every voice is heard, and where delivery is the aim of the game.
• Jemma Dolan is a Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone