Once again we are in the shadow of a very significant election in Northern Ireland.
This, more than recent elections, has significance because of the happenings in recent months, especially the RHI scandal.
One is inclined to agree with various comments from politicians and the newspaper reporters, that the republicans seized the RHI affair as a means to collapse the Assembly, Martin McGuinness being fairly confident he wasn’t going to be continuing as deputy first minister anyway.
Their ‘wish list’ is already becoming clearer.
The population of Ulster need be in no doubt (and I say the population – not only the electorate) that this is arguably the most serious election period in the history of the Province.
Because the result was close enough last May, and the enemies of Ulster will see, potentially, a fragmented Unionist vote, because, let’s be honest, the DUP have not covered themselves in glory since the ‘scandal’ erupted.
It won’t only matter whether Arlene, and others, will be proven innocent in the long run. The election will be history before that verdict comes out.
And if even some of the unionist electorate turn away from DUP, and vote UUP, then the balance of power could easily swing to the republicans.
Traditionally the UUP will always be behind the DUP in total votes cast. The danger is that those who defect from the DUP because of the continuing controversies, and vote UUP, could well be the weight that tips the scales in the ‘wrong’ direction.
We should be under no illusions, if Sinn Fein become the largest party in Ulster politics, then much will change.
And the UUP and SDLP need not think they will have any consolation if that happens. Republicanism will rule, and it will not be as conciliatory as DUP rule has been, whatever their faults.
Ulster is bereft of experienced politicians in these decisive days. There are one or two but they are in the smaller parties, who will not have any significant impact on the overall result.
As an evangelical Christian I find it hard to write on the subject of politics, however, the voters need to recognise the great peril that awaits this province if the vote is split, on the unionist side.
It is almost a case of “vote DUP” whether you agree with them or not, because the alternative is not an alternative at all.
Let the Will of God be done!
Gordon McNeill, Portadown