Marie Louise McConville: Political parties are failing struggling families

Many people are facing a tough Christmas this year due to the cost-of-living crisis
Many people are facing a tough Christmas this year due to the cost-of-living crisis Many people are facing a tough Christmas this year due to the cost-of-living crisis

So that's that then, the countdown to Christmas 2022 is almost over.

In just a matter of hours Santa will be climbing into his sleigh and taking off from the north pole amid a whirlwind of magic.

His elves will finally get a well-earned rest and Mrs Claus will bake a Christmas feast for when her jolly husband arrives back from delivering presents around the world.

It's all so wonderful - or is it?

The truth is, we don't live in a classic festive movie and this Christmas, for many, will be far from the usual, dazzling, celebration it has been in the past.

Families have less food, homes are cold and even Santa hasn't had the funds to make as many gifts this year.

And we can't even blame the Grinch.

Nope, those responsible for the mess we are currently living in are the politicians who we voted into power.

They promised they would represent us, help us, support us and be our voice but so far, all they've done is play childish games with each other and leave the rest of us struggling.

Every time I see one of them posting on social media about getting in the festive spirit and having hot chocolate, I just want to scream.

Their tone deaf posts come as families are struggling to put any food at all on the table, never mind a Christmas dinner, the elderly are relying on warm hubs in their community, funded by donations, to stay warm and children are sleeping in their coats.

It may sound like a scene out of a classic Scrooge tale but it's real life and it is shameful on our political parties that they are letting this happen and not kicking up a merry hell to prevent it.

I know of at least one family, with two working parents, who have cancelled Christmas this year, explaining to their young children that Santa is on holiday, because they simply don't have money left over after paying extortionate energy bills, grocery costs and childcare.

Of course, the political parties are happy to acknowledge the issues in interviews but what are they actually doing about it off camera?

I'll tell you, they have taken to expecting others to bail them out.

The likes of Paul Doherty - an SDLP representative himself - who is running Foodstock, delivering much-needed food and toys to those on the brink this December.

In north Belfast, USEYOURLOAF£1andapennybakery have been going to great lengths to help others.

Through donations, the business has so far left more than £14,000 worth of funds at local shops so people can top up electric and gas. In addition, more than 1,100 families have received toy donations and they are still aiming to help a further 1,042.

These community heroes are not being paid for these selfless acts but the difference they are making is immeasurable.

The same can certainly not be said about our political representatives at Stormont.


US actress Melissa McCarthy has reportedly signed up to star in a Christmas comedy film written by Love Actually screenwriter Richard Curtis.

According to Deadline, the 52-year-old Ghostbusters star, who will soon be seen as Ursula in a remake of The Little Mermaid, will headline a 'Christmas-in-New York' style movie.

While the project remains untitled, reports claim the film will centre around a workaholic man who enlists the help of a magical genie to help win his family back before Christmas.

McCarthy is rumoured to be playing the film's genie.

Sounds like perfect festive viewing.



Christmas and the New Year can be an anxious time for anyone so how about some "food for anxious thinkers?

The Book of Angst by Gwendoline Smith, a clinical psychologist, speaker, and blogger, has been described as a read which is "guaranteed to help anyone whose life is being negatively impacted by worry".

Best-selling author of The Book of Overthinking and The Book of Knowing, Gwendoline Smith explains what angst is and the ways in which deep anxiety can manifest.

The author then drills into down into social anxiety, which is often under-diagnosed but is one of the most common of the anxiety family.

Using simple, clear language and humorous illustrations, Gwendoline gives detailed step-by-step advice on how to cope.

I have three copies of The Book of Angst to give away.

If you would like the chance to win a copy. simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to

Closing date for entries is noon on Tuesday January 10.

(Q) Who wrote The Book of Angst?

Normal Irish News rules apply.


The winners of the Christmas with the Surplus Girls competition are Jeanette Nellis, from Ballycastle, Marian McCurry, from Downpatrick, Carmel Hanvey, from Strangford, Annette Breen-Mallon, from Newry, and Mary McGlade, from Draperstown