Opinion: Make sure you don’t lose your voice and your vote - register now

We all want to be able to shape our own futures.

We want to be able to have our say on the things that are important to us; the health service, jobs and having a roof over our heads.

That is the basic building block of any democracy - being able to have your say.

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Being able to vote, to make your voice heard and influence decisions that affect your future is a basic fundamental right. It was a right that was denied to too many for too long in our society and one we should never take for granted or be complacent about.

The move by the Electoral Commission to remove everyone en masse from the electoral register is bad for democracy. It has the potential to exclude people from the democratic process and take away their vote and with it, the ability of people to make their voice heard.

That is unacceptable. People fought too hard for the right to vote to lose it now at the push of a button as registers are cleared. So it is vital that people act now to secure their right to vote. Getting back onto the electoral register and guaranteeing your right to vote is easy and only takes a few minutes. It can be done online quickly and safely. All you need is full name, address, date of birth and national insurance number. Those over 75 years-old will receive paper registration forms and can fill them out in the traditional way to get back on the register.

I know we all lead busy lives and there are many distractions, particularly now in the summer, but it is worth taking a few minutes to complete the online registration to secure your vote. The political landscape across the island is changing rapidly.

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The old certainties are gone and the prospect of a new and brighter future is opening up ahead of us.

An Assembly election is planned for next year and in the coming years hugely important votes will be held that will shape the future of this island and change all of our lives. No one will want to be locked out of that or denied their opportunity to have their say.

I have a clear vision of what I want the future of this island to look like. I want a better, fairer, greener society in a new and united Ireland. Many people across the island share a similar vision realising it presents the best future for our country. You may not necessarily share my view and that is your right. Whatever your vision for the future, it is essential that you are able to play your part in shaping it. And to do that you need to be able to vote. So make sure you don’t lose your voice and your vote. Take five minutes to secure your vote today.

Register to vote at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote