When people ask me what the most difficult part of being a politician, that’s an easy answer for me; it’s being a Christian politician.
As my old friend Christoff (Rev Chris Bower) would say, the challenge is how we merge our Biblical principals with a loving and caring heart for every individual we encounter. That is often a challenge when every word you say in the press or on social media is well scrutinised.
I was asked to write about what is on my heart, very much it is dealing with the causes of Educational Underachievement in Northern Ireland. Every year about 1,500 Protestant and Catholic Boys get less than 5 GCSEs. These children are then much more likely to get involved in the criminal justice system than others. Providing these kids with a real chance in life is incredibly important to me, even though the issues and causes are complex.
I recently I wrote a new policy paper for my party called “No Child Left Behind” which made nine recommendations to the Minister for Education Peter Weir MLA to help solve this issue. I’m very glad the Minister has accepted all nine. This will make a real difference to many young people in our country.
The other issue that is very close to my heart is with how we ensure the protection of the unborn child. This difficult area will be a challenge for all politicians in the next few years, especially for those of us who love Jesus. I recently had a conversation with a lobbyist who wanted legalised Abortion in Northern Ireland up to 38 weeks. That made me both sad and angry at the same time.
Politicians are the least trusted profession, in fact the average man in the street is trusted three times as much as a politician! The only way we can change that is by being transparent and telling the truth all the time. That’s a challenge but let me assure you, not impossible.
Peter Martin: I’m married to Melanie, father of Lucy (5), Samuel (3) and Zachary (1). We go to West Church where I help out in Junior Beginners (pre-school) class on a Sunday. I used to enjoy fishing and climbing but now my pastime is mostly nappy changing. I’m a DUP Councillor in Ards & North Down and represent Bangor East & Donaghadee.