Northern Ireland teenager vents her frustration at politicians after Stormont collapse
A teenager from Northern Ireland has used her blog to express her disillusionment at the collapse of the Stormont Assembly.
In ‘An Open Letter to the Northern Ireland Assembly’, which Hannah Ruth Gibson has published via her ‘How To Be A Teenage Anomaly’ blog, the 19-year-old from east Belfast who describes herself as a Christian feminist said: “I am nineteen years old, a child of the Good Friday Agreement and I am not here to dredge up the past.”
She wrote: “I wish to hold up a mirror to the Northern Ireland Assembly as it stands, dissolving, swallowed by its own ineptness and show it what I see.
“Much like Rawls’ theory of justice, I have the advantage of some lack of historical context; I am not being disrespectful in this means, I am merely stating that I am neutral. Growing up ‘The Troubles’ were not something I knew anything of; I distinctly remember, age 11, asking my mother whether I was a Protestant or a Catholic. I have the benefit of being an outsider with the cultural contextual insight of a young woman who has lived her entire life in east Belfast.”
The English and Politics student commented: “I want to send a message to the Northern Ireland Assembly that; whilst you all sit in your ivory tower of clashing ideals, whilst you cover a hatred based on hundreds of years of disassociated ash and stone that was handed to you on a platter with pointed passive aggression, whilst you refuse to answer the questions put to you; life goes on at the bottom of Stormont Hill. Continue, as we all know you will, but do not dare pretend there’s any integrity in your actions.”
She continued: “The RHI scandal is nothing but another opportunity for you all to throw your hands up, throw out any reason to do any governing and to point fingers at each other. Again. The horrible irony is, whilst you make grave remarks about this being the final straw; you have never worked. Northern Ireland faces an annual issue with the passage of budget (often taking well over six months to do so), abuse of petitions of concern, appeals of court cases, a lack of care or appreciation of arts, closures and amalgamations of schools and an overstretched NHS. Every year it’s like watching a rerun of an old episode of an overly familiar TV drama which wasn’t even funny or clever the first-time round.”
Read Hannah Ruth Gibson’s entire blog about Stormont hereAddressing the upcoming election she said: “The 2016 election had a turnout of 54%, do you really think another one is going to magically fix everything? Most of us suck it up and get on with it.
“So, whilst you, our elected individuals, paid to get on with each other, paid £70,000 per annum (a budget that always manages to take priority I might add) to sit down and talk and compromise refuse to do so, the only people that suffer are us, the poor everyday common people who have the displeasure to call you our government.
“You sit there at the top of your hill and talk about standing up for your constituents when the only thing any of us want you to do is pass something slightly resembling legislation. These grandiose speeches about equality taste quite bitter when all it means is that we’re equally ignored.”
Of her own values she said: “I stand, a nineteen-year-old Christian from a Protestant-dominated area who identifies as a romantic nationalist minus the xenophobia and republicanism. I am socially liberal and vote central. My political heroes range from Parnell to Eleanor Roosevelt to Gorbachev. I sit here and can see the desert spanning in front of me, the unending landscape of knowledge I do not yet understand and the knowledge that I never will understand.
“But it isn’t a lack of understanding on my part that causes me to lash out at the Northern Ireland Assembly. I understand completely that the Assembly’s bias and refusal to shift; that this stubborn child sitting in our white house may never work. I call for the opposite that has been discussed for the past decade. I call for a shift in system set-up. Democracy is a beautiful thing; no matter what I will remain civic minded – I will be angry at politics for as long as I can about it; I will care fiercely and obstinately.
“Despite everything, I love Northern Ireland; I love the history, the culture, the people, the humour, the landscape.
“We have this gem of a nation; we’re so lucky to live in this first world country, a country people flee to for safety and yet, the government lets us down every time.
“Politics is an important job. You, politicians, have a responsibility and a privilege to play a small role in looking after us, in representing us. “
She added: “Why have I rarely heard my views heard in your chamber? You forget yourselves. “We, the Northern Irish people put this power in your hands and we can take it away. Imagine daring to do more than the bear minimum? Imagine gaining a small sliver of respect? Imagine taking some responsibility.
“In this regard, I actually take my hat off to Jonathan Bell for standing up and being honest, no matter how long it took. A man with political beliefs I completely disagree with and yet, in showing some humanity, I can say he earned some degree of my respect.”
The 19-year-old concluded: “We live in a complicated world. A world of game playing and ambiguity. In the face of it all I refuse to disbelieve that we are all compassionate beings. No one is born hating, if is something we learn along the way, alongside intolerance and prejudice. Mandela said “people must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
“At the risk of being sentimental I beg, I ask, I demand to see some glimpse of the unity in a country that represented itself so well in the UEFA Euros in the summertime. I want to see some of that representation in the parliament buildings.
“Have some bloody pride in this place, some self-respect. Get to work,” she demanded.