Down News chats with South Down Green Party member Emma Cairns.
When the Covid-19 epidemic started, we could never have imagined so many social changes – now with social distancing, everyone is much more cautious and attending a local cafe and enjoying a coffee during an interview has become much more difficult writes Kevin McAteer.
Times have certainly changed. When I first spoke to Emma Cairns over the phone I immediately took to her happy, energetic tone and her infectious enthusiasm. It’s not easy being involved in politics at such a young age and at 21 Emma has already gained considerable experience than most with the 2019 council election already under her belt, and she has no intention of letting up.
I quizzed Emma about the Green Party and last year’s Council election.
Emma said: “The Green Party is a relatively small, political party in Northern Ireland which also organises south of the border making it an All-Ireland Party. It had a good council election run last year running the most amount of candidates (26) they have ever ran in the local Government elections in Northern Ireland.”
“I joined the party when I was 16 years old and have been an advocate of green issues since then.”
But interestingly Emma is a carer. She cares for her mother who has Multiple Schlerosis, and has been her carer since she was eight years old.
Emma explained: “It can be difficult being a carer at such a young age. I grew up at an early age shouldering the responsibility of caring, but I am determined to separate my public and private lives, and I hope to attend university this year. I will be going to Queen’s University, Belfast, doing politics, philosophy and economics I hope.”
Emma explained that achieving third level education is important to her as a Green Party representative. She said: “I think students will need more support following Covid-19 as classes will now be taught online and furthermore youth unemployment could be on the rise due to a potential Covid 19 recession.
“One of the areas I am keen top support is local businesses. It is very important that we support local business to offset any potential Covid-19 recessions that will put local jobs at risk. I am particularly concerned at any potential issue surrounding youth unemployment and support for young people.
“We need to ensure that there are jobs available for young people moving forward and support for those who wish to attend university or higher and further education. Young people are the future and we need to give them as much support as we can.
“I spend a lot of my spare time when I am not caring for my mum involved in politics. I love politics and music and I would watch Netflix documentaries.”
Politics can be a minefield for most of us, and can be an exceptional and trying experience for young people. However, my chat with Emma Cairns left me with a feeling of someone with a strong will, with a positive attitude to life, ambitious, and she is someone who is very approachable.
Emma added: “I intend to build the party locally in South Down and hope to have a Facebook page up and running soon. I’ve already cut my teeth in politics at 21 years old with an election under her belt. And I’m an experienced carer. I’m going to fight for the issues that matter to me – and to all of us.”