I don’t like New Year resolutions. I hate setting myself up to fail. But with a new year comes a bit of re-commitment and perhaps additional perspective to the possible. So instead of resolutions I have a few things I will be watching and trying to engage with positively.
1. Dealing with the past. This time last year bereaved victims had a promise from two governments and all parties that their interests would be prioritized and that a process would address their outstanding rights. That promise has been broken. Other priorities were found and agreement was made on those. Victims need to see demonstrable commitment to their issues from all parties. Being positive is difficult after the blow of non-agreement, but rights and needs remain unaddressed. All of the transitional institutions depend on resolution.
2. It was astonishing to find out through the courts that women have human rights law on their side when they face horrific choices and travel to England for terminations. This most sensitive of subjects has been addressed by thousands of women in silence and fear for far too long. And a silent acquiescence is given to that experience by far too many. In 2016 Stormont will need to face into the realities of an experience that some are too happy to know will go away – by the time of the return ferry or flight. Compassion and dignity must become the watchwords of the next steps.
3. Can Dublin hurling go even further this year? Can the Dublin footballers’ position continue to be unassailable? I can’t wait to find out!
4. Is this a new era for Antrim’s male footballers and hurlers? It will take more than one year but our county would really love – and deserve – some green shoots at county level. And the women’s successes and commitment in football and camogie could really do with a lot more acknowledgement and promotion.
5. My youngest will enter her last year at primary school. Will the questions of transfer and universal academic excellence be answered? Will anyone cop on to how short sighted the savage cuts to third level are? And will someone please insist that when a new third level establishment is built that childcare facilities are compulsory?
6. We need a new economic vision agreed by the Executive that engages the entire community equally. One that integrates learning in our schools, third level and workplace, one that does not reinforce sectarian economics and one that sees the relationship between the economic development of deprived areas to the financial prosperity of us all. Individual parties have it – but if we are to have multi-party executives then we need to have a universal vision.
7. I am looking forward to the commemorations of 2016. Will we do them together or apart? Within our divided society and across our artificial border? There is a real opportunity to build relationships and understanding, if there is mutual will.
Whatever the answers I am looking forward to the journey!