Patrick Brown, a Sheffield University international studies graduate was a surprise candidate in the last Newry Mourne and Down District election picking up his first major political scalp by winning a seat for the Alliance Party in the Rowallene Constituency.
And the big question on many lips in the run up to the March 2 election is, will be step up again and win a seat in the next NI Assembly?
The optimistic new kid on the block said: “Political opportunities such as this surprise election don’t come along very often. The chance to make a real change, to send a message that as a society we’re ready for something truly different in our politics. This election can be a turning point for a new, progressive and outward looking Northern Ireland. But if we fail to take that opportunity I fear it will not just be more of the ‘same old same old’ but something a lot worse which will affect all of us in our daily lives.
“There are several main issues which are being raised continuously with me at the doors across South Down over the last few weeks during my canvassing. The usual suspects of Brexit, RHI and flags do feature, but I’ve been particularly struck by the focus on public services, ‘bread and butter’ issues – issues which are most effected when we don’t make Northern Ireland work for the greater good of all.
“The instability at Strormont brought about by the failure of the DUP/SF Executive is directly linked to the tragedy of our Health Service and neglected local hospitals, the £50 million lost to the Shared Education Budget through Executive inaction and the threat to community sector services such as the closure of the Social Enterprise Hub in Downpatrick in March.
“Only a vote for Alliance will provide the real leadership and genuine change needed to tackle these issues. No longer can we elect parties that put their community designation at the forefront of their politics.
“Alliance will fight for special status for Northern Ireland in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. We will tackle the £800 million a year lost to Northern Ireland through the cost of division. We will invest in new integrated schools. We will reform our health service so it works for everyone. We will ensure community groups, especially those working in mental health provision, get the support they require.
“No more division, no more corruption or incompetence. On 2 March, say no to green and orange – vote Brown for South Down and together we can make a change, for good.”