When I saw that 379 people in Fermanagh had spoiled their ballot papers in last week’s Council election, I mischievously hoped they’d done it with some style.

Maybe scrawled a rude drawing across the paper, or scribbled a message for our politicians: “Get back to work you lazy shower of so-and-sos and earn the money that my exorbitant rates are paying you.” Or something worse.

Alas, it was not to be. The official reasons given for “invalid votes” is mostly that people didn’t put the 1 in the right place or some such mundane error.

And anyway, only 379 out of over 30,000 votes cast suggests that the electorate here knows what it’s doing.

At least, knows what it’s doing when completing the paper. Whether they knew what they were doing in putting these people into positions of responsibility remains to be seen.

There’s also a perception that there’s a disconnect between the people and politics; but again in Fermanagh, out of an electorate of 47,000 entitled to vote almost two-thirds did so. You may well say that this still means that about 16,000 couldn’t be bothered going to the polling booths; but an average turnout of about 65 per cent is good by any standard in an election.

The people have spoken and got the Council they wanted.

As I watched on television with the reports coming through, I felt for the journalists and started having flashbacks; days of being holed up in a count centre grabbing snacks and coffee with nothing happening for hours. Then numbers coming through and trying to make sense of what it all means, before coming out of the bubble to realise that there’s a world outside where people have been getting on with their lives!

The Fermanagh and Omagh Council poll has resulted in some change, with fresh blood in the form of a few 20-somethings and a “new” 75 year old.

This was the first electoral test since the murder of journalist Lyra McKee resulted in Father Magill hitting the nail on the head at her funeral when he criticised politicians. Indeed, the first test since the RHI inquiry and with the backdrop of an apparent increasing appetite for compromise to get back to Stormont.

Councils may not have wide-ranging powers and local personalities probably affect local elections a bit more. But still, the figures across Northern Ireland were significant in that there was a surge in the middle ground, with Alliance in particular making great gains.

Locally, there were surprises. Long standing Councillor Brian McCaffrey lost his seat; he’s someone I’ve known for years and I saw how he served the people of Erne East so well; and I wasn’t expecting the loss of Debbie Coyle in Enniskillen either.

We also got the message that health is an important issue for people, and Independent candidate John McCluskey was elected after campaigning to restore a health surgery in Rosslea.

I was also interested to see succeeding generations of people I know coming into their own; Paul Blake seems as decent a “Skin” as I know his dad to be (Skin, geddit, see what I did there about a Skintown lad?)

And what a great story about Garbhan McPhillips, the fourth generation of his family over 120 years to be elected to local government, succeeding his dad Richie and his uncle Tony who is a Councillor I remember providing a young journo with plenty of lively copy at Enniskillen Townhall.

A couple of Ulster Unionists are also continuing a family tradition. In Erne North, Diana Armstrong and John McClaughry got in; both their parents, Harry West and Collie McClaughry were major figures in Fermanagh Unionism. Diana was previously co-opted and having known her for quite a long time, it was no surprise that she conducted herself as a Councillor with great dignity and politeness to everyone. I often wonder why others can’t disagree agreeably, and there are Councillors of all parties who sometimes turn local politics into a sneering and aggressive sphere.

From the little I know of John McClaughry, he seems to be cut from the same respectful and personable cloth as Collie.

Despite all our criticisms, one has to admire all people who have the guts to put their name forward for election, win or lose. And we should all acknowledge the work that our local Councillors put in.

But those people that now form our new Council have a great responsibility. They should remember that they are leaders in our community, and in the vacuum of regional politics they should use their voice to represent us all. In all sorts of matters, even if I may say so in speaking up to call for people to be held to account for the dreadful abuse of many of our people being revealed in the pages of this newspaper week after week.

On this, and many other matters, Councillors, you should be brave and radical. Getting elected is one thing, let’s see what you do with that mandate.

In general terms, the performance of the Ulster Unionists was significant. In Fermanagh-Omagh, they appear to have done well, but Province-wide they look to be in trouble. In Belfast, the party once ruled City Hall, but went down to seven Councillors in 2014 and are now down to two. Actually, make that one because Jim Rodgers had the whip withdrawn for endorsing the disgracefully negative attack on Alliance.

And yet, another of his party colleagues, Davy Brown justified the leaflet with an “enemies of Ulster” diatribe.

Commentators believe the UUP doesn’t have an identity and the tactic of trying to out-DUP the DUP clearly hasn’t worked. Defeated party Councillor, Chris McGimpsey conceded that it was like trying to sell cheaper whiskey to the Indians when they wanted the real quality stuff!

All parties will be analysing their ups and downs and where they are now; I mention the UUP in particular only because they face a major exercise in how to turn their fortunes around.

Despite the surge of Alliance and the Greens, the overall picture hasn’t changed that much. Change, significant change, welcome change, yes and it is to be hoped it is the start of people voting on day-to-day issues rather than the Orange or Green one.

But the fact is that the revolution hasn’t started yet. The DUP and Sinn Fein are still the major players and we as a community are still left with the same issues which have to be resolved;

investment in health and education, a boost for the economy, an Irish language Act, same-sex marriage……

We’re about to enter another election, this time to the European parliament. And the parties will crunch the numbers once again.

Whoever wins elections, the real losers will continue to be the people if the politicians don’t get on with it and make the breakthrough to start building a better, shared society here.