Next Thursday, 5 May, voters in Northern Ireland will go to the ballot box to cast their vote to decide which 90 MLAs will represent them in the Northern Ireland assembly for the next five years.

My Twitter feed is inundated with tweets from candidates out pounding the streets in sensible shoes, knocking on doors, and canvassing for every vote they can gain. They are all making the most of social media reels to let us know about the issues that they are hearing about again and again at the doors – how to fix the NHS and support mental health, tackle the cost-of-living crisis and the controversial roll out of abortion services in NI following the 2019 Abortion Bill.

No surprise to find that people want to talk about our health services including accessing GPs, waiting lists for even the most routine surgeries and the pressure on A&E services. In NI, several cases in recent weeks have highlighted the tragic effects of long waiting times for ambulances.

Another big question that people in Northern Ireland have for their potential assembly candidates is, what will they and their party do about the cost-of-living crisis? In the last six months alone, I have seen my monthly gas bill soar from £100 to £230. On top of that, consider the price of fuel and the huge cost of food bills. Where Westminster has announced energy bill rebates to help with the cost-of-living crisis across England and Wales, the Northern Ireland assembly has not offered any financial help to households here because the draft budget cannot proceed without a sitting executive.


And here is the crucial question in this NI assembly election on which most other questions hinge: will the two main parties go back into a functioning government?

Northern Ireland has a unique political system of mandatory coalition which was agreed in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Due to Northern Ireland’s power-sharing arrangements, the roles of first and deputy first ministers are a joint office shared between the two biggest parties at Stormont. This means that no party can govern alone.

In February 2022, the Democratic Unionist Party’s Paul Givan announced his resignation as first minister in protest to the NI protocol. The DUP claim that the Brexit deal is damaging trade and that it must be amended immediately so as not to undermine the union and the economic integrity of Northern Ireland” (Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP party leader). This resignation simultaneously heralded the end of the deputy first minister post held by Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin and the end of a functioning executive.

And so, the most burning questions in the assembly elections 2022 are, will the DUP and Sinn Féin parties go back into government? Will they form an executive? And will they get to work in fixing some of the pressing problems detailed above while releasing the budget needed to do so?

Some commentators predict that voters will vote in the usual pattern and that we are headed for more deadlock in NI politics, however others are predicting a seismic shift in voting that could see a new leadership dynamic emerge. We don’t have long to wait to find out.

With only a matter of days left until voting day, the canvassers will be giving it one last big push pounding the streets and knocking on the doors trying to win votes.

At Evangelical Alliance NI we have been helping our members and wider Christian community to better understand some of the key issues at stake and what the candidates have to say about them.

In the past few weeks, we have hosted a hustings event for Christian students on 6 April alongside CARE NI and an online husting alongside Christians in Politics NI. We have also created a helpful leaflet to remind Christians that their vote matters and to provide them with ideas of questions they can ask candidates in their constituency. 

If you are a Christian voter in Northern Ireland and you think this would be helpful, then download it from our website. We would never tell you who to vote for, but we do want to help you to ask questions that might help you make a more informed decision. We encourage you to think carefully about how to best use your vote and your voice in the NI assembly elections 2022.