As we enter 2019, we enter a year full of uncertainty and challenge.
We enter the third year without a functioning assembly, where Sinn Fein will blame the DUP and the DUP will blame Sinn Fein, but where at the end of the day, people’s belief and faith in politicians and politics is stretched to the very limit.
There must be and there needs to be a recalibration of politics in Northern Ireland if anything is to change.
The last few elections have been based and fought on fear and division.
In 2019 politics needs to be based on delivery and service, where politicians serve the people rather than themselves.
That requires politicians who must be both responsible and accountable.
Even if we had never heard the word Brexit, we would still be facing huge challenges in 2019 in terms of our health service, education system, our infrastructure, inward investment and job prospects.
The May 2019 local government elections will offer an opportunity for people to vote for those who will represent them, rather than reinforce division and separation in our society.
Early 2019 will see votes in Westminster to take Brexit to its next step.
There is still much uncertainty, but the backstop is not acceptable as it would see Northern Ireland becoming a place apart from the rest of the United Kingdom.
It certainly will not deliver the best of both worlds, as purported by some.
What is required is both clarity and time, so I reiterate our call for the government to seek an extension to Article 50 to help provide both.
Despite all this uncertainty, the Ulster Unionist Party will remain resolute in our determination to represent the people of Northern Ireland and ensure that they do not get left behind or suffer, while others look after their own selfish interests.
Robin Swann MLA, Ulster Unionist Party leader