Senator Ian Marshall:
"I take this opportunity to reflect on the past four days of polls and elections, especially in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK. Along with my fellow Senators, I wish to take the opportunity to congratulate all those candidates who were successful and commiserate with all those who were unsuccessful in either the council or European Parliament elections. We are in changing times and we are witnessing a seismic shift from the more recognised voting patterns from an intelligent electorate who have sent clear messages to all the parties.
They do not want ambiguity, mixed messages or negativity and gloom; neither do they want to see entrenched positions being taken based on history and rhetoric. They want a clear manifesto and clearly defined objectives. They want positivity and solutions to problems. They want people who are prepared to take on local, national and international challenges by working with others for the greater good. Most of all, they want change. This was highlighted more than ever yesterday north of the Border when Naomi Long was elected as the first MEP who did not define herself as either a unionist or a nationalist. In a province where for decades we have focused on voting to keep people out of office based on party politics, rather than on voting to put people in, the tide may be turning. At the count yesterday Diana Dodds of the DUP was returned first, with Martina Anderson of Sinn Féin who had received the most first preferences and Naomi Long of the Alliance Party who had captured more votes than any other candidate taking the second and third seats. I congratulate all of them and it must be noted that they are all women."
Senator Ivana Bacik:
Senator Ian Marshall:
"It was a truly historic day and clear evidence that the electorate wanted clear representation for all, irrespective of cultural identity and not defined by historical identities. I listened with concern as unionist voters supporting Alliance Party candidates were described by one political leader as unionist with a small "u", implying that there were different ranks of unionism. I disagree with and take offence to this comment. Unionism is unionism and nationalism is nationalism, just as loyalism is loyalism and republicanism is republicanism. In 1959 Johnny Cash sang about "Forty Shades of Green". I suggest there have always been 40 shades of green. I also argue that there are 40 shades of orange, all with unique perspectives and points of difference, but unionism, nationalism, loyalism and republicanism have changed and are not as they were ten, 20, 50 or 100 years ago. They will change further. Politics needs to acknowledge and reflect this, rather than refer to old-style types and labels. If we need to take anything from what happened at the weekend, it is that the people of Ireland and the United Kingdom are ahead of their politicians. The new generation of voters will place higher demands on politicians and leaders to deliver on promises. As we conclude this round of elections, everybody has a responsibility to reflect on gains and losses, successes and failures and strive to work across both Houses of the Oireachtas to deliver security, peace and prosperity for all the people of Ireland, irrespective of their political affiliations or identity. People, parties and politics will change, but the business of government will go on and the important discussions on health, housing, education, agriculture, transport and climate will all endure."
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