McCallister: “This has been the most toxic and poisonous experience of my entire life.”

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Last night the Vixens hosted a statement from the NI21 Executive about the recent allegations  and just who stopped the Carecall investigation. Tonight the party deputy leader, John McCallister speaks to Slugger responding to what he believes is an inaccurate statement from the party executive and paints a bleak picture of his future in the party, alongside what he believes is the inevitable death of the party.

I began the interview by asking him to respond to the statement that no formal complaint had been received by the executive and that he had ignored legal advice received by the party;

John argued that the charge that no complaint was ever brought before the party executive just doesn’t wash, as he had informed the former executive about a complaint that had been made to him and that some action would need to be taken. He told that me that the party does not have the internal machinery or procedures to deal with complaints such as this and that ensuring an independent investigation was conducted was paramount to ensure that a duty of care to both sides was properly delivered. He further repudiates the notion that he was off on some sort of solo run, telling me that he had brought in Carecall with the agreement of both Basil McCrea and the former executive and had consulted with both throughout the first two weeks within May. Moreover, he notes that in his dialogue with Carecall he was actually informed that he was following the appropriate course of action in offering these services to the complainant, despite what the latest statement from the party executive has said.

Who stopped the investigation then?

John told me that it is his understanding that while he had commissioned Carecall as the deputy leader; the organisation sought permission to continue its investigation from the new executive but that was not forthcoming. The South Down MLA made it clear that he did not halt the investigation as he doesn’t have the power to do so and expressed his regret that he was unable to start it again. John believes that

everything from the start of this process has been about stopping this investigation, rushing out and getting legal advice has been about trying to stop it and saying ah, well look, we cannot do this.

I moved on to the part of the statement which talked about the damage on the party election performance and John’s role in that. Unsurprisingly, McCallister doesn’t believe that his actions in the days leading up to polling day did any significant damage to the party’s prospects and dismissed the ‘naivety’ of those who believed that NI21 were going to sweep the boards and achieve nearly 50 councillors.

From what John was telling me, I was curious to know just what future he had with NI21?

As you know David I used to farm, if this was a cow you’d be getting it put down. This has been the most toxic and poisonous experience of my entire life. It has made my experience in another political party look like a Sunday school outing…I think it’s pretty obvious that I don’t have a long term future with NI21. They don’t want me in the party and I don’t want to be in the party for much longer.

Aside from his own future, John doesn’t believe that NI21 deserves to be saved at this point as he argues it has become so sidetracked from its original purpose and become so mired in this situation that it makes a future for it impossible. For John, at this point, it is simply about sticking it out to ensure that some form of independent investigation for members of staff takes place. At this point John cannot see a possible working relationship with the current executive, of which he is a member, who he criticizes for publishing a statement without informing him about it, or giving him a chance to respond.

After everything that has gone on, did he regret setting up NI21?

I regret doing it with Basil; yes…The absolute tragedy of this…Unionism is coalescing around a much harder right agenda, Nationalism/Republicanism, the same. It was ripe for the picking for a moderate pro union, pro UK, centre-right party to come with a sensible message about a Northern Irish identity…we lost focus on that, we stopped doing politics.

My understanding is that more documentation will come to light in the days ahead. Watch this space as the implosion of a party just one year old continues in full public gaze.

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  • Comrade Stalin

    Congratulations landing the scoop once again David.

    Reading the statement from last night, and John’s comments today, it’s still John’s side of the story in all of this that appears to be cohesive to me. The Executive statement appears to be an exercise in careful and selective wording.

    I find it very hard to believe the story that the legal advice was against bringing in carecall or that any lawyer would advise that the company sit back and do nothing in the face of complaints of harrassment being brought to a senior principal within the organization.

    No doubt that the obvious missing parts of all this will come out in the coming weeks.

  • mjh

    Yes. Great scoop David.

    “It was ripe for the picking for a moderate pro union, pro UK, centre-right party to come with a sensible message about a Northern Irish identity” – John McCallister.

    By my reckoning there was about 3.5% of the electorate and two or three assembly seats ripe for the picking when they started. But who knows if that could have been grown? There was certainly a strong argument that the UUP was weak, declining and not offering anything distinctive – and that there may have been the opportunity for a head-on challenge to it in order to offer a different type of unionism.

    “…we lost focus on that, we stopped doing politics”
    But the new party appeared to lose focus on that mission even before it had a name and an official launch as it quickly transformed into Alliance-lite. This is the really interesting political story. Why did they lose that focus? How did those who were attracted by the original proposition let that happen? And when did John first realise that the party had abandoned the mission?

  • http://www.facebook.com/northdownvoice NorthDownVoice

    Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…
    Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…
    Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
    Hallelujah, hallelujah

    Praise the Lord.

    just wondering is the statement issued by an ‘interim executive’ (apart from the deputy leader) comprising hand picked and appointed by the Leader, or has a party wide EGM been held to institute an ‘Elected Full Executive’!!

    I was just wondering also if the 4 emails I have received in 3 days is trending, from people telling me they have left the party and 3 of them apologizing for remarks they had made to me as I set about destroying the party on my departure from it.

    I am still redirecting mail from my home address back to the bank from whence it came, wondering what on earth the new treasurer in Strangford and North Down constituency association is doing, or has one even been appointed.

    I know my departure as treasurer made the newspaper but the departure of the chair prior to me didn’t cause he stayed in the party, the secretary also had intimated his departure before i left, and when I left the new chair was doing the role of both chair and secretary,

    I that wasn’t the writing on the wall I don’t know what would have been read.

    for me its Hallelujah, hallelujah, as I smile and watch it disintegrate, A party whose time might have come but whose destination was blurred

  • Roy Walsh

    Well, where does John McAllister move from here, and how much of his most recent former party follows him.
    I suspect the key may be in one of his answers, ‘As you know David I used to farm’ John is sufficiently popular in the South Down area to be re adopted by his first former party, and it’s farming roots used to voting traditional Enoch so, who else could Mike put up against the UKIP Reilly threat? There I suspect is where ‘our wee country’ types will place their 1′s.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Gerry, I think delusions of grandeur might be an issue.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Roy,

    There is no path for John McC back into the UUP, having excoriated it and its leadership for entering into pacts with the DUP etc.

    He could pull off a miracle and get by as an independent rural Unionist, like David McClarty did. He’s certainly more transfer-friendly from nationalists than he was before.

  • DC

    Ah NI21, the Alliance Party on speed?

    NI21 as a unionist-leaning party it was one time, very briefly, grounded in something, but that structural terra firma turned into quick sand after the redesignation scramble and it kind of collapsed in on itself – a meaningless void, a political nothing.

    Vote for Basil? Don’t think so fat chops, because we’re not Basil, we’re Northern Ireland!

  • cimota

    Get your popcorn out folks; John is making his statement from a burning platform and he’s making sure that every cinder is burned out before taking the leap into the ocean.

    I said this on Twitter: what would someone in a soft seat in a unionist hard line area do if faced with his party turning from “pro-union” to “other”.

    I was there at the conversations where the choice of designation was raised and how it would be a story whatever designation was chosen. John didn’t even bother turning up to those formative meetings but Basil insisted that designation as Unionist would help save Johns seat in South Down.

    What I see, both as a early member of the party and a current (voted not selected) member of the interim Executive is petty and grasping politics. Over the last month, how much progressive politics has gone on in Northern Ireland? While the interim Exec of NI21 attempt to put procedures in place (stuff that John and Basil should have had sorted), John is still throwing his face in front of the media and blaming everyone but himself. Maybe if he had actually turned up to some of the meetings or maybe if he had done anything befitting the role of a Deputy Leader then the story would be different.

    When I was introduced to John, I wasn’t impressed. Basil told me that John was a good friend with principles to burn. How unintentionally prophetic that would turn out to be.

    For my part, very little has changed. The Nolan Sideshow this morning seemed to focus on Allister taunting “Gerry the Bomber” and half a dozen other empty shirts blethering on about why whatever. There is a real need for actual politicians, never mind politics. Not one young person was saved from poor education or lack of opportunities today. Not one hospital waiting list did any better than any day before. And we’re still being fined daily over Welfare Reform.

    I’ll finish with some of the best political rhetoric I’ve heard in all my days.

    We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only — making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.

  • DC

    cimota – reality is now, at the moment, NI21, who gives a (deleted) stuff?

  • Comrade Stalin

    cimota,

    John is still throwing his face in front of the media and blaming everyone but himself.

    This all started when the party changed its designation policy, inexplicably two days before an election where designation plays no role. Whoever decided the timing that is the person who made the first move, and it’s pretty obvious that this wasn’t John.

  • cimota

    DC – I give a (deleted) stuff*.

    Comrade Stalin – quite possibly. It speaks volumes about the discipline and strategy at the top. That’ll take work to rectify because there are even newer people inside.

  • Comrade Stalin

    cimota,

    I don’t think it can be rectified. Not because of a shortage of good people, but because both the brand and the two senior politicians who lead the party are too damaged to continue.

    Basil seems to be clinging desperately to the hope that getting rid of John will allow the ship to be righted but there’s no way that can happen. Properly constituting the executive and the party leadership should have been done when the party was established; it’s too late to do it now.

  • cimota

    Comrade Stalin – I’m too angry about the (deleted) to think entirely calmly. With the (deleted) that SF/DUP get tagged with every week, you’d think this could be fixed.

    Where’s the home for the secular, pro-union activist?

  • RegisterForThisSite

    Cimota, apart from the John and Basil show the other elected rep in NI21 is Johnny McCarthy, his only public statement since election was a facebook message trying to find a home for a cute stray dog. Yet you’re on here with the same auld rubbish ‘Woohoo we’re gonna change the world’ ok you’ve told us enough times, any chance of seeing a bit of product now?

  • Red Lion

    agreed cimota

    DUP sail through Irisgate. Sinn Fein stonewall on every worst subject known to man.

    It is entirely possible NI21 can come back if the new executive acts with integrity and gets professionally organised from here on in.

    Ive a feeling it is the 2 leaders who are now too damaged, not the NI21 brand which can be relaunched. If the 2 leaders cling to NI21 then the brand may be sullied.

    We do know that Alliance have a vested interest in wishing NI21 to fail. They believe the 11500 voters they couldn’t attract should be theirs so health warning advised.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It is entirely possible NI21 can come back if the new executive acts with integrity and gets professionally organised from here on in.

    The new executive has already failed that test by blocking the Carecall report rather than allowing it to proceed. It is the only way the air can be cleared.

    Ive a feeling it is the 2 leaders who are now too damaged, not the NI21 brand which can be relaunched. If the 2 leaders cling to NI21 then the brand may be sullied.

    Yes, that’s the problem. Those two are the only people who are actually earning an income from their political career.

    We do know that Alliance have a vested interest in wishing NI21 to fail. They believe the 11500 voters they couldn’t attract should be theirs so health warning advised.

    NI21 has already failed.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Where’s the home for the secular, pro-union activist?

    Several options : Alliance, UUP, Greens, Conservatives.

  • aquifer

    Maybe political parties should be like charities.

    If they get wound up their assets go to somebody with similar objectives.

    Those enthusiastic joiners are gold dust.

    Join Alliance?

    And what happens to all the young members of those socialist sects when they realise the proletarian revolution is not happening anytime soon?

  • cimota

    @Register – Johnny is actually on holiday so cut him a bit of slack. Plus he’s on the Shadow Council until next year. I don’t think the idea of normalised society is rubbish. As you said, we have a single elected councillor which was the prediction BEFORE the scandals. And anyone who thought the party would sweepstake all the polls was obviously on the happy juice. This was a first outing. It was to many people a show that there is a demographic out there who want this and despite the mess that followed, this means there remains a mandate to do something about it.

    As for changing the world, I try and do that every single day in my day job. You may consider it the same old rubbish, I consider it entirely necessary.

    @Comrade Stalin – I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it again. The interim Exec did not block the Carecall report. They haven’t and they wouldn’t. They have met three times I think – mostly to deal with getting working groups together and sorting out the AGM date and process. The rest of the time has been reeling from whatever new fiction has been released by the Deputy Leader. They don’t actually have a mandate to remove either MLA – that has to be done in the AGM – although John is essentially breaking every rule in the Constitution so that might be grounds. They are honest people doing something part-time in the face of paid smear agents and a man desperate to cling to a seat.

    Alliance and UUP are hardly secular institutions. Both are led by the nose by their Presbyterians. The idea of joining the Conservatives would be laughable for me – that’s a brand that polls worse than NI21 on average even when they do everything right plus, you know, “conservatives”. Brr. And Greens – well – they have the advantage of having some of the most earnest people I’ve ever met.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Whoever made the “first move” of the Final Act (and it’s hard not to agree with Comrade on that), a fundamental problem was obviously what different people thought the party stood for.

    John assumed Unionist centre-right; but it was obvious (and, to me, baffling) that many in the party were neither of those.

    This goes back to my point that the basic problem was that the party didn’t stand for anything – at least, nothing that all its members agreed on and that wasn’t already on offer.

    Throw in, as Jenny noted elsewhere, the inevitable egos and it’s all over.

  • Framer

    Has NI21 the money to pay Carecall? Indeed how much will the investigation cost?

  • cimota

    Ian – I can’t disagree with that. That said, John could have shaped the party if he did anything other than act like the comedy guy with the reliable joke about how long Basil talks for. I’ve heard it at least a dozen times. Luckily it never gets old.

    Framer – they were commissioned by John not NI21. Which is why Carecall are returning the report to him and not NI21. There are questions why they were involved when the Assembly has perfectly functioning employee and intern grievance procedures. And why the police have not been involved. As I said above – get popcorn as the nastiness between these two is not over.

  • http://eastbelfastdiary.blogspot.com/ Jenny

    ‘I used to farm, if this was a cow you’d be getting it put down’.

    Jesus. I almost feel I shouldn’t be watching this car crash.

    But then again, @cimota, I am an earnest Green.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Framer – they were commissioned by John not NI21. Which is why Carecall are returning the report to him and not NI21.

    As deputy leader I’d have thought that John would have had the authority to do this.

    The confusion is yet another outworking of the fact that the party was evidently never properly constituted or structured and it’s not clear who has the authority to do what.

    There are questions why they were involved when the Assembly has perfectly functioning employee and intern grievance procedures.

    I think the talk of the Assembly’s procedures is an attempt at misdirection.

    If someone in a workplace is being harassed in the manner that has been alleged, you as an employer are open to legal action. It is not a defence to say that the employee should have invoked the complaints procedures, as the person doing the harassment may have been in control of those procedures, or may seek to punish the employee (eg by sacking) for invoking the procedures.

    Since, therefore, you don’t want to be sued, you need to bring in an independent third party to get to the bottom of what is happening and come up with a solution. By being independent it is more likely that the truth will come out and appropriate action can be taken.

    Note that Carecall’s involvement is with respect to the party, not the Assembly.

    And why the police have not been involved.

    That suggests that no criminal offence has been committed. But just because this is not a criminal matter does not mean it is a police matter.

    To use an example, if I’m at an interview and the employer says “we don’t employ Catholics around here, get the hell out of my office” it isn’t a police matter; but I can take the guy to an employment tribunal and get him done for discrimination.

    If the employer says “we don’t employ Catholics around here” and starts beating me around the head with a baseball bat, that’s assault and the police would have to be involved.

  • cimota

    Comrade Stalin – the staff are employed by the Assembly, not the party. It would be daft to start an investigation into someone else’s employees…NI21 is more concerned about the conduct of both MLAs. Carecall was called in by John’s office to deal with claims about Assembly employees.

    The individuals concerned claim multiple activities that are illegal, not least a cover-up but also including intimidation. I remain surprised this hasn’t gone to the police.

    From my POV, this is all grand-standing. If John was executing a duty of care for an employee, he’s going about it in a weird twisted way. Obviously calling in Carecall might be the right procedure but calling in the Newsletter? There’s more to this squalid little story than meets the eye.

  • Turgon

    II do not know the personalities involved in this but it seems likely to be about personalities as well as an allegation.

    To deal with the allegation first: it remains that – an allegation. If there were grounds for criminal legal action there is little doubt the police would persue it: they have not done so at least not so far.

    If there is other wrong doing (not criminal) then an investigation may be appropriate. However, it is also possible that the allegations stack up so poorly that there is nothing really to investigate. If that is the case then an investigation would be a waste of money. It would also be a distraction and damaging to Basil McCrea.

    This is one of the problems with any sexual allegation. Once made there is a strong tendency of “No smoke without fire” and indeed in some of the public’s minds the burden of proof is reversed in that it is for the accused to prove their innocence. This is unfair and toxic: almost as toxic as failure to investigate when there are grounds.

    The problem is that an investigation whatever it is portrayed as, is not a neutral act nor is it in reality politically non predjuical. no matter how blameless McCrea is the investigation has impuned his reputation to an extent and that is potentially grossly unfair.

    Then we come to the personalities. I have never met McCrea but people have for a long time reported him being a bit difficult: again report and claim (though I have never heard any report of sexually inappropriate behaviour).

    McCallister on the other hand is held up as friendly and nice. I have met him briefly and can confirm that.

    However, few of us know much about either man.

    There are several readings of this:

    It is a genunine problem and McCallister is was doing the right thing.

    There is no problem and McCallister is being honest but overzealous.

    There is no problem and McCallister is trying to knife McCrea is a devious and unfair fashion..

    MCrea is using devious means to get out of a real problem where he has done wrong.

    McCrea has no case to answer and is rightly annoyed that his name is being dragged through the mud.

    McCrea (in the wrong or in the right over the allegations) is trying to knife McCallister.

    All the above and many other options are possible.

    What is, however, clear is that two people who were once fairly close have fallen out. They have also previously had problems both political and personal in the UUP. Whoever is in the wrong or right politics requires interpersonal skills and a degree of intellect and more importanly common sense. Very little of any of those are being displayed by NI21 at the moment.

    This debacle speaks to utter disorganisation and quite possibly mendaciousness. It now looks likely and entirely appropriate that after the next election Basil go back to business and McCallister to farming whilst the UUP pick back up the seats which were their’s. Clearly it is up to the electorate but the demise not only of NI21 but also McCrea and McCallister’s careers is looking highly likely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/northdownvoice NorthDownVoice

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/ni21-is-finished-says-deputy-leader-john-mccallister-30363406.html#comments

    NI21 is Finished

    The deputy leader of NI21 has said that if his troubled party was a cow “you’d be getting it put down”.

    John I would not have said it was that good.

    When I left it on the 14th of April it was not the party I had joined.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    I agree with your analysis. But here’s the thing.

    If I was in an organization and someone made allegations against me of this kind which were false or incorrect, I would step aside from my position, appoint independent investigators, and when they established that nothing happened my reputation would be clear. It is the only way to offset what you are describing as the upset balance around presumption of innocence.

    NI21 are trying to bury this independent investigation by talking up a lot of spurious issues technicalities around legal advice and whose name is on the contract of employment. Their legal advisors may have suggested that an independent investigation was unnecessary but that doesn’t mean that it is wise not to have one – it’s as much a political decision as it is anything else.

    cimota,

    I don’t think you’re reading what I’m saying. Let me try again.

    Comrade Stalin – the staff are employed by the Assembly, not the party. It would be daft to start an investigation into someone else’s employees…

    Whoever told you that this is the case misled you.

    An arrangement exists whereby some support/press/research staff are “employed” by the assembly, but they are appointed on the request of the parties. These are vacancies which are not advertised to the public and which do not employ members of the general public.

    It is wholly misleading to describe them as “someone else’s employees” – they are not. Their day to day activities are directed by party workers and elected representatives.

    NI21 is more concerned about the conduct of both MLAs. Carecall was called in by John’s office to deal with claims about Assembly employees.

    No, as has recently been revealed, Carecall was called in by John in his capacity as NI21 Chief Whip to deal with claims about NI21 employees.

    You cannot simply claim that John was acting in a personal capacity. In any case it’s not clear that his action was unauthorized. If it was, why wasn’t he disciplined or dismissed as deputy leader ? Why weren’t Carecall contacted by the then-executive or leader and told that their instructions were unauthorized and that they should stop their investigation ?

    The individuals concerned claim multiple activities that are illegal, not least a cover-up but also including intimidation. I remain surprised this hasn’t gone to the police.

    Let me explain this to you once again.

    The police only investigate allegations of criminal activity.

    Breaches of employment law and workplace regulations may be illegal, but they are not criminal. Therefore the police have no role. The only way the police could get involved is if a sexual assault took place, and there is no suggestion that anything of the kind occurred.

    So if, for example, a fellow employee regularly wolf whistles at a female employee or makes lewd remarks about her appearance or clothing (I’m not saying that any such thing actually occurred – just imagining an example) – this is not a criminal offence and is therefore not a police matter. BUT it would likely place the employer at risk of legal action if he/she did not act quickly to have the problem stopped. You can therefore see how the problem becomes very difficult when the person allegedly doing the harassing is the employer or directs the employing organization.

    I trust that this answers your question as to why the police are not involved. Whether or not they received a report, their non-involvement simply means they have no reason to believe that anything criminal took place. It is still possible that something illegal occurred.

    From my POV, this is all grand-standing. If John was executing a duty of care for an employee, he’s going about it in a weird twisted way.

    No, he isn’t. I don’t know whether John had some sort of other motivation or not – I can’t know what goes on in his mind. However, on face value, John’s action – bringing in a third party to investigate allegations made against senior principals in an organization in a bid to understand the facts – is entirely proper and is probably what any other responsible employer in similar circumstances would do. Aside from moral and ethical concerns, in the event of legal action it shows that the employer acted quickly to have the matter investigated.

    Obviously calling in Carecall might be the right procedure but calling in the Newsletter? There’s more to this squalid little story than meets the eye.

    Again, you keep repeating this assertion despite discussions of the reasons for this.

    If John thought that he was being overruled in an attempt to push him out, and all the circumstantial evidence supports this suggestion, then going to the media is an appropriate tactic. The NI21 leadership (ie Basil) would have known of the risk of this when he decided to act over redesignation. You can’t simply say that John’s decision was an isolated act.

  • cimota

    @Comrade Stalin

    Tldr version: This is where I eat crow.

    Full version: As I’m now the victim of misguided trust, I apologise profusely. It’s possible to say the language is vague but really it’s just rank naivety. The interim exec was always going to be a poisoned chalice but I expected the issues to be more extrinsic than intrinsic.

    For what it’s worth, I advised Basil to step down and appoint someone as soon as the story broke. The rest is history.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sorry about that cimota. Verbosity’s my thang.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    NI21 has only three elected assets: two MLAs whose reputations have both been badly damaged by this dispute and a newly-elected councilor. In business the intangible value that a business’s public reputation is valued at during a change of ownership is termed “goodwill.” NI21′s goodwill at present has a negative value. No doubt Mike Nesbitt is sighing a great sigh of relief, and probably David Ford as well, and probably the DUP’s leadership is slightly miffed that the UUP’s demise will now revert to the same pace that it was at before the creation of NI21.

  • gendjinn

    Nice bit of journalism, David. Well done!

    It really is a disappointment to see NI21 end up a clown car, wrapped around a tree.

    Despite the meltdown they got 11.5 thousand votes so there is definitely an opening in the political landscape – I think it’s moderate/secular Unionism and that the designation matters. There’s already Alliance for those looking for designation Other.

    I think NI21 should boot the MLAs and work hard between now & next year’s Assembly elections, it took SF 30 years to . If their morale isn’t completely shattered after the electoral debacle.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tmitch57,

    No sigh of relief here. I predicted a long time ago that NI21 would crash and burn. I didn’t expect it to be quite this way, but hey.

  • Drumlins Rock

    tmitch, few in the UPP ever saw NI21 as a threat, even the minor irritation they were was outweighed by entertainment value. The crash and burn was certain to happen from day one, in fact from the moment Basil put his name forwards for UUP leadership it was clear either he would wreck the UUP if he won or if he lost break away and form a new party that he would also wreck.

  • cimota

    There are loads of folk who claim to be prescient but really I doubt that anyone could have predicted this, especially not that the source of the problems would be within. It also ignores that people were paid to smear but that’ll come out in the wash I’m sure.

    It’s disappointing to me personally not only because of the expense of money and time that it cost me personally but also because it showed me exactly how opposed the system (which includes the media) is against change.

    Ever the optimist, despite the unmitigated disaster of a campaign, there were still 11,500 people who voted for the ideals of NI21 and who couldn’t previously find a home in Alliance, Greens, Conservatives or any of the sectarian parties. That’s powerful.