NI Assembly election: 'Peril' of deadlock, and showing the love

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'Peril' of post-election deadlock

A sign at Belfast's Culture Night that reads: Alternative Ulster
Image caption,
Arts funding could be cut in the event of a return to direct rule, one group has warned

Headline issues in the Northern Ireland Assembly election campaign have been the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, the Irish language and the future of power-sharing.

But the community and voluntary sector weighed in on the debate on Monday morning at a hustings event hosted by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) in Belfast.

And one charity said a failure to break the political deadlock after the election would leave arts groups in a "perilous situation".

"Immediate hardship" and an "immediate cut to funding" would be felt by groups that employ about 5,500 people, according to Community Arts Partnership chief executive Conor Shields.

"I have real concerns that if we don't see an assembly formed post-election that direct rule will see a further falling off of really terrible funding for the arts currently," Mr Shields added.

"At this hustings today, you can hear all the areas the arts are supporting - suicide prevention, families, childless couples, looked-after children - and yet the support for the arts through revenue funding is decreasing."

Image caption,
Each of Northern Ireland's five main political parties were represented at the NICVA hustings

Other groups pitched questions at the panel, including Fertility Network UK, which said more support should be given to couples undergoing IVF treatment.

Sharon Davidson, who represents the group, said she had "heard all the right noises", but she added: "I want to see action."

She was told by the candidates that motion on the issue was due to go before the assembly for debate this month, however Stormont's collapse stopped that from happening.

"The frustration is we got so close to an assembly debate and the carpet was just swiped from under our feet," Ms Davidson said.

Malachy Campbell of the National Trust said protection of Northern Ireland's built and natural heritage "should be one of the issues discussed as part of the election".

He also raised the issue of Brexit, and said the UK's withdrawal from the EU leaves questions over protection measure for the environment.

"Where exactly those will be resolved, we can't say, but we'd be interested to hear more from politicians on that issue."

Honeyford stung by 'bred to hate' tweet

A member of the Alliance Party's ruling executive has resigned after he tweeted that unionists are bred "to hate Catholics more than corruption".

Image source, Twitter

David Honeyford was criticised on Twitter for his remark, which he followed up by saying: "Knock doors in unionist areas and tell me Im (sic) wrong!"

He has since deleted his initial tweet, and made an apology, saying that his comment was "never intended as a generalisation of an entire community".

Mr Honeyford, who stood as a candidate in the 2014 council election for one-time unionist party NI21, said his "entire family is from the unionist community".

The Alliance Party said his tweet was "inappropriate and offensive".

"After reflecting, David has resigned from Alliance executive as he would not wish his tweet to be used to undermine the work of Alliance in building a more shared and united community, which he fully supports," a party spokesman added.

Keeping it in the family

Image source, Conor Duncan/Jo-Anne Dobson
Image caption,
Connor Duncan's god-daughter Charly-Ann was loving the leafleating, while Jo-Anne Dobson's husband was climbing the masts and lampposts

Sometimes when you're running for election, you need all the help you can get.

And for many candidates, politics is a family affair, as they recruit every relation they can think of to pound the pavements in the hope for votes.

Getting her first taste of the cut-and-thrust of an election campaign at just seven years old was Charly-Anne.

She's the god-daughter of Social Democratic and Labour Party candidate Connor Duncan, and our source told us she matched him stride for stride as they stepped out on Sunday.

And Jo-Anne Dobson had her husband halfway up the lampposts putting up posters - clearly a man with a head for heights!

And one young boy got a big surprise and broke into giggles when he spotted his dad - Democratic Unionist Party candidate David Douglas - looking down on him from the posters on the telegraph poles.

Media caption,

The son of election hopeful David Douglas giggles as he spots his dad on a campaign poster

Showing the love

Image source, Thinkstock

Tuesday is Valentine's Day... you didn't forget, did you?

But it's also your last chance to register to show some love for your favourite political parties with a vote in next month's assembly election.

So, along with all the usual essentials - a romantic candle-lit dinner, a bunch of red roses and a big box of chocolates - make sure you pick up a voting registration form for you and your loved one.

Visit the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland website to find out how to get your name on the list.

Who will be your special 1 on the ballot paper?

BBC News NI's Campaign Catch-up will keep you across the Northern Ireland Assembly election trail with a daily dose of the main stories, the minor ones and the lighter moments in the run up to polling day on Thursday 2 March.