‘I left USA because of intolerance’

Mathew O'Hare.
Mathew O'Hare.

An American who was recently granted citizenship in Northern Ireland has told how he came here to escape the intolerance of his homeland.

Mathew O’Hare, who lives with his civil partner in Lisburn, shared his views on the “hostile” US election race.

Describing why he came to Northern Ireland in 2006, the 54-year-old said: “My civil partner Yair is from Israel but has Austrian citizenship through his dad.

“We chose here as the ‘middle ground’ because we could live here as civil partners.

“I reckon we’ll stay here for life. The country I grew up in really isn’t there anymore.

“I grew up in a country of tolerance and the States now seem anything but.”

Mr O’Hare said he experienced intolerance of everything from being gay to being technologically literate.

He said: “If someone has a different view, it’s automatically evil. I see the trend going to tolerance here, to panic in the States.”

Mr O’Hare, who was able to register his vote in Oregon state by post, said he was optimistic that Hillary Clinton would triumph.

Despite his optimism he also recognised there was a real possibility Republican candidate Donald Trump could win: “The idea does bother me, even scares me a little,” he said.

“It’s been overload on both sides. I think the coverage is one side of a bigger problem.

“The general sentiment in elections is what’s wrong with each candidate. It’s a symptom of the decade and we all need to work to fix it.

“One reason I am keen to stay here is because the politics are so hostile there.”

Meanwhile Ballygawley man Seamus Kelly, who has been living in the New York area for 10 years, told the News Letter he missed the diverse political landscape in Northern Ireland.

He said: “When Trump announced his candidacy pretty much everyone thought it was a joke.

“But yet here we are the day before the election and the choice is between a woman (the horror) and a TV personality who’s made a name for himself by being mean to people and running businesses into the ground.

“With the two party system either candidate is pretty much assured of getting a sizable chunk of votes just by being on the ballot.

“Think of all the people who tick the box for Sinn Féin or the DUP regardless of the name next to it.

“This time though a lot of people are having a hard time with the party line because they can’t stand the candidate.

“The hardline rhetoric of each party is making people question long held views and values.

“Where’s the SDLP and UUP when you need them?”