I wish everyone living in Northern Ireland a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
2022 will be a busy year politically. We must get Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom restored so we can trade freely again with England, Scotland and Wales but we must also take courageous decisions to safeguard our hospitals.
I am up for both.
We need fewer conversations about border polls and more conversations about fixing our hospitals and removing the barriers to trade with our main market by value and volume.
Time spent talking about a border poll is time wasted. More people want Northern Ireland to succeed than fail and its time everyone focused on delivery for those people rather than debating a border poll.
I make no apology for forcing Brussels back to the table on the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Irish Sea border does not work and is not acceptable politically or economically. It is undemocratic and undermines the principles of the Belfast Agreement.
2022 will also bring a long Bank Holiday weekend for everyone across the United Kingdom to observe Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Seventy years on the throne. Seventy years of service. Seventy years leading the nation by example. But not if Sinn Fein have anything to do with it. If Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill got their way, they would probably cancel the Bank Holiday such is their hatred of all things British.
The threat to lives and livelihoods from Covid-19 looks set to continue in 2022. Our priority as citizens and leaders must be to encourage everyone with whom we have influence to heed the medical advice and get their vaccinations. That is proven as the most significant step we can all take to ease pressure on hospitals and protect life.
With the 2022 NI Assembly election fast approaching, that must be the question on every voter’s mind. What sort of Northern Ireland do they want for their grandchildren? This is undoubtedly the most important election for everyone who lives in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein want to win the election. They want to join with Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and have a First Ministers Club that is dedicated to the destruction our United Kingdom. We cannot allow this to happen.
All of this serves as a reminder that our work in leadership is not for the here and now. It is for the next generation. That is why I want 2022 and the next decade to be focused on cooperation rather than confrontation. On working together rather than division. On building a Northern Ireland in our second century that we can all be proud of.