Greater Diversity Needed In Public Life Says NILGA

Campaign launched to encourage greater diversity in public life ahead of 2023 local council elections

Campaign launched to encourage greater diversity in public life ahead of 2023 local council elections

A new campaign has been launched today to encourage greater diversity in public life ahead of next year’s local government elections.

Led by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), the ‘Be A Councillor – Make A Difference’ campaign is encouraging people from under-represented communities to get involved in public life.

It encourages them to get involved in frontline politics to make Northern Ireland a more inclusive and representative place to live for all communities.

These categories include people of colour, those with caring responsibilities, women, young people, people from the LGBTQI+ community, and people with a disability.

NILGA is the voice of local government in Northern Ireland, with membership from elected representatives from all 11 councils and all political parties. 

This campaign has the full cross-party support of elected representatives in NILGA.

A series of seven videos have been developed with a wide-ranging and diverse group of current councillors from across Northern Ireland and across the main political parties.

NILGA will also be writing to all political parties in Northern Ireland to encourage them to do all they can to ensure greater diversity ahead of candidate selections for next May’s local government elections.

Speaking as the campaign launched, NILGA Chief Executive Alison Allen said:

“The people of Northern Ireland will go to the polls next May to elect 462 councillors across 11 different council areas.

“However, while people from incredibly diverse backgrounds and all different types of communities will elect their local representatives, our councillors have not always been fully reflective of our communities.

“The latest census figures published recently show that Northern Ireland is more diverse than ever before.

Whether that’s different ethnicities, ages, abilities, political opinions, sexualities and gender identities, or religious beliefs.

“Councils are our closest and most accessible form of elected representation. Our councillors are community activists and leaders who are on the ground, delivering for their constituents day in, day out.

“Therefore, it’s only right that our councillors are fully representative of the people they speak up for and give a voice to.

“NILGA’s exciting ‘Be A Councillor – Make A Difference’ campaign is a significant and timely campaign which aims to encourage people from all walks of life to get involved in public life.

“A more diverse and inclusive society brings benefits for all of us.

“More diverse politics brings better policies, better legislation, and greater inclusivity with wider perspectives on how to improve our communities for everyone in them.

“Ahead of parties making their selections for next year’s election, NILGA has written to all political parties to encourage them to ensure they are doing all they can to facilitate and foster proper diversity and inclusion among their candidates.

“Our political parties have an important role to play to make sure our elected representatives are as reflective of the people they serve as possible.

“NILGA will work closely with all parties ahead of May 2023 to make this a reality.

“This campaign is vital to encourage people from all underrepresented communities that there is a place for them in politics in Northern Ireland.

“A more inclusive and diverse cohort of elected councillors will bring untold benefits and make everyone in our communities believe that politics works for them.”