The people of Londonderry are turning to ‘extreme parties’ because Stormont isn’t working and jobless young people are being condemned to the airport check-ins and ferry terminals.
That’s the message, delivered ‘loud and clear’ on the doorsteps in the run up to last week’s elections to the new Derry and Strabane Council, according to successful Faughan candidate Gus Hastings.
Mr Hastings made an impassioned speech from the hustings on Saturday (May 24) after his party endured a chastening verdict in its former stronghold.
“On the doorstep it was loud and clear from the community that what they want is, they want Stormont to work,” Mr Hastings said. “It’s not working at the centre. There are no jobs coming this way.”
Mr Hastings had just witnessed the defeat of party colleague Brenda Stevenson in Faughan, where it was inevitable the SDLP would drop in representation, but it was the dismaying result for the party in Creggan and the Bogside - John Hume’s backyard - which he addressed in his victory speech.
The Strathfoyle representative referenced the startling success of four independents, two of whom - Paul Gallagher (IRSP) and Mr Donnelly (32 CSM) - are linked to parties opposed to the Belfast Agreement, across the new Council.
Prior to Mr Hastings’ speech Mr Donnelly had just topped the poll in The Moor and there are as now as many republicans opposed to the PSNI as there are SDLP representatives in the Creggan and Bogside.
Mr Hastings said voters are fed up with stalemate and stasis in Belfast.
“They are turning to extreme parties because we are not delivering and unless Stormont starts to deliver we will be in a worse situation this time next year when we go to the polls for Westminster.
“So, what I’m sending is a message loud and clear that on the doorsteps, the doors that I knocked at, the people that were coming out to talk to and be canvassed were saying loud and clear, jobs, jobs, jobs.
“Do not be sending our young people overseas. Increase the number of places in the university and increase good quality jobs in the Derry City Council area.”
Mr Hastings said he will work to ensure that these goals are at the top of the agenda during the mandate of the new council.
“We will be working towards that, we will be canvassing, making sure that people up at the top realise that the political system will only work when they are working for us and when they are working together,” he said.