DESPITE the next scheduled election in Northern Ireland (NI) being more than a year away, the Alliance Party are putting plans in place in every constituency.

Representatives have been selected for the party and it is expected that they will be the candidates in the Assembly Election in 2022.

In Fermanagh South Tyrone, it is no different, with Matt Beaumont being selected by the party as it looks to continue its recent success and growth across NI.

Matt has already stood for the party in the 2019 local Council elections, and also in the General Election, but failed to win a seat.

However, the General Election did see an increase in the share of the vote for the party.

With NI making its way out of the Covid-19 lockdown in place since Christmas, Matt has plans to be talking on the doorsteps whenever he can safely do so – perhaps an indication of how seriously he and the party are taking trying to win one of the five seats available in the constituency.

He said: “I’m not going to be waiting until 2022 to speak to people on the doorsteps. As soon as we are allowed to talk to people and canvas people and allowed to knock on doors, I’ll be trying to get across as much of this constituency as I can to understand what needs to happen now.

“There is this old saying, ‘Politicians only come out at election time’, and it’s very true.

“I don’t want to wait until election time to find out what people need in Rosslea, in Dungannon, in Enniskillen – I need to know this now, so that no matter what happens in the election, I can use the little influence I have to try and change people’s lives today, because I don’t think waiting until the election time is good enough.

“If people in Fermanagh and South Tyrone need something, I want to know about it today, so I can change something,” he said.

While the Assembly Election in May, 2022, still seems a long time away, politicians and hopeful politicians have been getting their house in order for it.

Sinn Féin’s three candidates are awaiting confirmation from their Ard Comhairle, and it was the first party to make a move in selecting candidates locally.

And Matt is no different, and he firmly believes that the Alliance surge that has been witnessed in recent years can shake up the political structures in Fermanagh South Tyrone.

“I think there has always been a positive reaction to Alliance in the area. I have been welcomed by a constituency that hasn’t always had the biggest choice when it has come to who to elect. It has always been a battle between ‘Green V Orange’,” he said.

However, does he believe Alliance’s efforts locally will be enough to take a seat away from the current incumbent parties – Sinn Féin, DUP and UUP?

“Whenever the election is called, it’s only fair to say that Alliance are in with a shout in Mid Ulster, West Tyrone and Fermanagh South Tyrone.

“But at the same time, I’m never going to take a single vote for granted. No-one owes me their vote – I have to deserve their vote and I’m going to continue to try and put forward a message and to continue delivering in such a way that people do think I’m at least worthy of a vote, or a transfer, when the time comes,” Matt added.