Councillor of the Week: Clive McFarland

This week we highlight the site of Councillor Clive McFarland of Omagh District Council. His introduction is short and to the point. He has a short list of personal milestones in the development of his political career as part of his opening description. His picture gallery is particularly well resourced. There’s a nice touch too with his main photograph with a background of Omagh High Street.There’s also a link to his Facebook profile, inviting people to become friends with Clive. Facebook is potentially (all online tools have latent potential, but it’s what you do realise it that makes it useful or a drag on your precious time) a powerful convening tool.

Just from clicking through we can see that he has 38 friends; eight of them are also ‘friends’ of mine. He’s joined 14 groups, including one for members/supporters of the DUP; another for supporters of Northern Ireland Football; and of course, the readers of Slugger O’Toole (Clive blogged here on Slugger until his election in 2005).

There’s huge potential to be unlocked in this application, particularly for a councillor who’s ambitious to take a lead on local issues. There’s not many Omagh focused groups, and none that takes civic engagement seriously. There is a plethora of alumnus groups including Clive’s own Omagh Academy and Omagh CBS.

There’s also a The “Bring Back Willie Lopez Kebab House, Omagh” Campaign. It’s a hint at the scope for Clive (or indeed one of his rival online councillors) to develop a local issue focused group and begin to bring constituents together for their own practical ends, giving him stronger qualitative connections with individual voters, potentially from across party divides.

There’s a good local focus to his links which include Omagh Community House and to one of the Strule Arts Centre as well as to the local papers.

There’s also decent local data on Omagh’s performance on recycling, which begins to lend the site a utility beyond Clive’s own role as an individual member.

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  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “Councillor doing council work – SHOCKA!”

    Dear God but this is dull stuff. Straight out of episode one of The Thick Of It, where they call a press conference but have nothing to say so they pretend that they are “getting on with government” and that this somehow is news.

  • joeCanuck

    Chill out, Billie-Joe.

  • (Clive blogged here on Slugger until his election in 2005).

    Yeah, chill out. It’s just Mick giving his friends a plug. Its his blog, so he can do what he likes.

    Parochial, boring, pointless … maybe.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    I write what I like, thanks.

    I’m very chilled. My points are as valid as anyone else’s and it’s about time someone highlighted the (often repetitive) dross on this site. And again, I at least have the decency to be brief and not give long and tendentious history lessons in every post.

  • joeCanuck

    My points are as valid as anyone else’s

    Of course they are. I didn’t say otherwise.
    But, my impression of some of your recent contributions is that you are either very angry or very frustrated. Still, you’re here and you do make valid points.

  • Not a fan of the DUP honestly, but I read the man’s stuff and he’s doing right by his constituents and I respect that a lot even if I don’t get on with his political persuasion. He also makes good use of technology, tapping Facebook is a good move to keep the younger people involved.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Angry and frustrated? Heh, probably, but I prefer to see myself as a hard marker. Glad you agree with some of what I say, if not how I say it!

  • Horlicks

    Must be a long ould commute from Omagh to work in DUP HQ/Stormont. 10/10 for commitment from Cllr. McFarland.

  • Cynic

    It’s as well he has a pic of Omagh on his website because he’s never normally there. Usually found slinking around Dundela or Stormont in Belfast.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Must be a long ould commute from Omagh to work in DUP HQ/Stormont. 10/10 for commitment from Cllr. McFarland.

    Not really. Unlike the rest of us, he gets it covered by expenses. And Stormont only sits two days out of the week – and that’s when it’s in session, which is not very often.

  • what?

    er why do you think he gets expenses? only mlas get your facts straight

  • Mick Fealty

    Horse:

    It’s called declaring an interest. But be my guest. Get searching for your candidate for councillor of the week next week. And let us know if you think this was, as you seem to be suggesting, a misjudgement in favour of a ‘friend’?

    It may not excite you personally (but hey, no one’s paying me shedloads of cash to keep you always on the edge of your seat). Of course, if you are not an elected representative then why should it? You may simply not be part of the intended audience. In which case, I take no offence if you’d rather ‘zone out’ on this one.

    What I hope comes out of these posts is that they encourage councillors, MLAs and others to begin using some of the online tools creatively, for their own purposes as representatives. These are tentative steps, but there are rewards for those who take these connective technologies on more than simple face value.

    Clive’s pushed the boundaries a bit. There’s nothing earth shattering here, other than it is a councillor taking the initiative for themselves. I’d like to see it used in a sustained and applied manner to help build strong relationships between councillors and their wider electorate.

    In the cases of Clive and Domhnall (our first two featured ‘Councillors of the Week’), I hope others will look at what they’ve done, use it and then push it even further. That’s one reason why I have tried to flag up the applied potential of Facebook. I’d be pleased if this exercise led to the establishment of a virtuous democratic circle.

    No one (least of all themselves) is suggesting that NI councillors are powerful creatures, but they are the seed bed for all the parties. It’s a perfect opportunity for political parties to experiment with what works and what doesn’t..

    Try reading Clay Shirky’s “Here comes everyone” if you don’t think this stuff can have an effect? It’s not going to change things overnight. But it can and it will make a difference for those councillors prepared to make the leap.

    BJR:

    Brevity is always welcome. But the odd bit of content goes down well too. As Einstein once said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

    You, IMHO, invariably err on the wrong side of the latter clause.

  • dub

    Omagh main st?

  • Comrade Stalin

    er why do you think he gets expenses? only mlas get your facts straight

    D’oh, you’re right. I blame the guy who tried to say that he commuted to DUP HQ/Stormont!

  • slug

    Mick may I suggest Deirdre Nelson of Ballymena and IJP of North Down as future COTWs?

  • clivemcfarland

    Since I´ve finally got down to reading this I might as well post something.

    I dont get expenses for travelling to my work and only for travelling from my home in Omagh to Council meetings. Anyway, all that info is in the public domain and my attendance record and expenses can be seen. The attendance is higher and expenses lower than others so provided I do my job (in both places) then people don´t have much to worry about. If I choose to drive a bit during the week then so be it.

    Its nice to get a plug from Mick of course but I hardly think its likely to cause massive ill-feeling amongst every other Councillor out there. Its just a website….

    Anyway, I´m on holiday so have better things to do!