NI Assembly election: The strange, the funny and the confusing

While some commentators have described the 2016 assembly election campaign as fairly low-key, it has had its share of strange and quirky moments.

Among the most surprising was the seeming confusion on the part of the DUP as to when exactly Northern Ireland was established.

Part of the DUP manifesto covered plans for a public holiday and programme of events to mark Northern Ireland’s centenary.

It reads: “Northern Ireland was established as a legal entity on May 5 2021.”

Image caption

The DUP got its dates badly wrong in its election manifesto

No pictures of Belfast’s own De Lorean cars were included in this Back to the Future moment for the DUP.

The most obvious way of telling an election is imminent – apart from the ever growing pile of leaflets shoved through your door – is, of course, posters of candidates.

Sean Burns, South Belfast Labour Alternative candidate, found his dress sense coming under question, as some social media users wondered whether he had put his t-shirt on back to front.

Comments included: “How are we going to elect you when you can’t even get yerself dressed?”

Mr Burns issued his response on his Facebook page.

Image copyright
Sean Burns

He later clarified that the style of the garment was responsible for the look, not any difficulty in getting himself dressed properly.

While election posters are synonymous with campaigns, have you ever wondered what happens to them when voting ends?

It seems some are put to practical uses.

Shane McKee found these 2011 East Antrim Ulster Unionist posters came in useful for an improvised chicken coop.

He even scored out the B at the start of (Roy) Beggs in a bid to encourage the hens.

Image copyright
Shane McKee

Whether the chickens thought it was a cracking idea or not is not known.

Other posters found a way to impact people’s lives, although perhaps not in the way originally envisaged.

The Ulster Unionist campaign stumbled in Carrickfergus when one of their billboard posters, featuring party leader Mike Nesbitt, literally stopped traffic on St Brides Street.

Image copyright
Carrick online

Image caption

The Ulster Unionist campaign took to the road in Carrickfergus

The picture appeared on the Facebook site Carrickfergus Online , along with comments such as:

“That’s one way to get people out to vote.”

“That’s crashing a campaign.”

“Well that’s giving out all the wrong signs.”

But it was not the end of the road for Mr Nesbitt, who proved you can’t keep a good politician down when he “photobombed” BBC News NI’s political correspondent Stephen Walker following UTV’s leaders debate.

Media captionMike Nesbitt photobombs Stephen Walker

Of course Mr Nesbitt was, himself, a broadcaster for many years. It seems he couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk into somebody else’s camera shot.

SDLP youth member Cormac Kerr couldn’t hide his admiration for his own party leader during the same event.

He shared a heart-felt video tribute to his party leader after the debate on Facebook stating “I know who gets my vote tonight.”

Media captionSDLP youth worker’s tribute to party leader Colum Eastwood

Whether there were any careless whispers during the debate is not clear.

Other BBC journalists managed to get on the wrong side of different party leaders.

Mark Devenport provoked a tongue-in-cheek (we hope) threat from DUP leader Arlene Foster when he suggested she had a short fuse.

Media captionMark Devenport risks getting “a thump” from DUP leader Arlene Foster

We can report that the threat was not carried out and the black eye Mark was sporting in following days was a result of bumping into a door.

Meanwhile, Alliance leader David Ford called out the BBC’s Mark Simpson for selling his party short over the number of MLAs it had in the previous assembly.

Media captionAlliance Party leader David Ford calls out Mark Simpson for selling his party short over MLA numbers

But it wasn’t just BBC journalists who got confused at times during the campaign.

Sinn Féin’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir momentarily forgot which part of Belfast he was standing in.

Media captionMáirtín Ó Muilleoir momentarily forgot which part of Belfast he was standing in during the campaign.

So that’s another election campaign over and done with, with only the counting left to do.

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