Two years is a long time in politics...

06 March 2024 - by Lea Carson

Just over two years ago, on 3rd February 2022 I started out in my career in public affairs with a new job at Stratagem.

If you know your politics, that date is familiar, as it was also the day that then First Minister Paul Givan MLA resigned from his post in opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.  

While a significant day for me, the day was a much more significant one for Northern Ireland. This political moment led to us being without an Executive for 24 months. In the two years that followed, the political landscape changed significantly, creating new challenges for our clients and for our industry.  

Despite these challenges, working in public affairs remained an active and interesting experience as we found new solutions and avenues of influence.  

During this time, engagement looked different to what it normally does when the political institutions are up and running. Luckily with over 25 years of experience, the Stratagem team was more than prepared, providing creative events, delivering legislation at Westminster and even welcoming a former American President to Derry. 

It was clear that even though the Assembly was not sitting, MLAs continued to attend meetings and drop-in events at Stormont and there was a strong appetite for wider policy conversations.  

The conversations had will inform the policy priorities facing each Minister and Department including health transformation, net zero and economic delivery.  

As I marked my two years here at Stratagem, local politics changed again, with the welcome return of the Assembly on 3 February 2024.  

Reflecting now as we launch back into Assembly Business, the past two years in public affairs has taught me about the importance of political engagement in all scenarios, no matter how challenging. Clearly two years of groundwork, relationship-building and consistency in engagement make a significant difference in how we engage with political representatives and subsequently shape policy outcomes for the better.  

Now as we continue in 2024, one thing is for sure, public affairs has never been more important. With over 4 billion people likely to vote in elections this year alone, it is imperative that organisations are engaged in the political arena.  

If you want to find out more about how your organisation can engage in impactful public affairs activity, get in touch with Stratagem