Wheat from the chaff

Two years ago I moved to South Antrim after a few years abroad, before that I lived in the ‘nationalist’ bit of Lagan Valley. In Lagan Valley I expected to see regular newsletters from the local shinner – mainly because I was helping write them and was certainly sticking them through hundreds of letter boxes.

I’ve not been in SF for most of my time living in South Antrim but I’ve remained surprised that I haven’t received literature from them through the door (apart from a letter to the small estate I live in about rats – I had to pretty much insist that one was sent)

For a while the local SDLP MLA became very good at providing a regular well produced update on his work – that has now died off.

Tonight was a first; not only did I get my first newsletter from local APNI MLA, David Ford, but he seems to have had his material delivered by a junk mail company – it included an offer for satelitte dishes and a charity appeal envelope inside. I’m going to read it but I suspect sending stuff with junk means most people will treat it as such.

So do your local MLAs communicate with you? If so are they doing it effectively?

  • David Ford


    If you had lived in South Antrim longer, you would have seen a Constituency report from me once a year. It’s delivered by that well-known junk mail company with the red vans called ‘Royal Mail’. They aren’t supposed to put items for door-to-door delivery inside each other, so I suppose I will have to speak to those helpful people at Mallusk – or possibly your mails manager in (I presume) Crumlin.

    and Mick

    How do I get rid of your Twitter box, which is obscuring over 1/4 of the width of the page, including part of the message thread?

  • drumcairnharp

    My Mla,Billy Armstrong,communicates by use of the media. Unfortunately its usually about how to avoid planning permission on his office, how to pay your wife for your office and how to employ your family.This infomation is essential if you want to get on the gravy train called Stormont.
    Keep up the good work Billy.

  • jock

    My MLA, Margaret Ritchie, appeared at my doorstep a few Saturday afternoons ago. She said she was looking for directions so I told her what do about social housing and Winter Fuel Payments. Then I went back to the sofa to watch the football.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Gone David!!

  • Mark McGregor


    Was indeed Crumlin, as I opened your newsletter out fell something from a satellite installation company and a big padded letter from Help the Aged. Made your delivery seem cheap and nasty before I’d even read it. (you could do with getting a better printer too because you’ve clearly let them do font and layout and that early cheap feel did continue – no need in the modern world)

    Good to get it though, I appreciate any party taking the time to inform me on what they are at. I’ll even be taking up the offer to get in touch especially given your comments on investors in the Antrim/Lisburn line and my concerns over the possibility it is the property development company mascrading as a railway company you’ve may been in contact with.

  • Also being a South Antrim resident, I can confirm that David Ford’s news letter comes through the door on a regular basis. The rest of the parties are pretty poor at that, but the UUP and DUP have offices in Antrim with a few constituency surgeries in different places.

  • Mark McGregor


    Tommy Burns was getting pretty good around here, I got one every quarter for a while but it has tailed off over the last six months. By far the most literature I’ve had through the door is from the SDLP (I was feckin stunned) even though in one case it was a letter informing residents he had resolved a complaint when that was a complete lie and he was claiming the work of a resident and to a lesser extent a SF Cllr.

  • Actually just posted on a similar issue on Northern Notes: http://www.garymckeown.info

  • Mark McGregor


    I’m a face-2-face advocate. Facebook, twitter all that jazz, it relies on people following you. Sticking a newsletter out or knocking a door and engaging relies on you doing something for ‘them’. This ain’t Obama or USA buy an election land – you still gotta work the door for a vote here and I’m happy to know it. Twitter won’t gain a single seat – thank god for that.

  • Mark, I agree completely. But on the issue of increasing communication with voters, new media platforms can certainly enhance that. It’s no replacement for talking to people on the doorsteps, and I don’t think anyone would suggest it is, but the more interaction the better. The fact is that you can Tweet and blog until the cows come home, but if you aren’t doing the work on the ground, people will know it.

  • Unimpressed

    I’m also a South Antrim resident, have been for all my life and I have never had a newsletter from any of my political representatives, something which would be very much appreciated.
    Clearly they are very selective about the areas they choose to keep updated.

  • On the Obama point though, I would beg to differ. His team harnessed the net to bring about well-organised activism on the ground and to energise and direct supporters. It wasn’t that new technology acted as a replacement for traditional campaigning, but rather it made local activity more targeted and effective and helped to generate the funds needed to mount a first-rate traditional media onslaught.

    Again, it’s about using new technology to enhance traditional methods of electioneering and political communication.

  • Clearly they are very selective about the areas they choose to keep updated.

    I know which areas Alliance do, and there is nowhere in South Antrim we don’t hit – we even pay for some bleed over, so I would guess you have a problem with your post.

    (Or you don’t live in the constituency of South Antrim…
    …or you binned our stuff without reading it!!!)

  • Dan Breen’s Revolver

    Hey sammy

    THis is off topic, but what percentage of Protestants/RCs would you say there are in the Alliance party??

  • CMB

    I am not surprised that Alliance sends leaflets round their South Antrim constituency they do it in mine as well about once a year. The problem I have with these leaflets is that they claim they have done everything and take credit for it as well, sometimes I think they would like us to believe that there is no other party either in my local council or constituency. They are spoofers they do not have the level of power they claim to do all the things they claim they have done – perhaps a little more of a reality check when sending out their propaganda would help and then people may take them a little more seriously

  • Alan

    I’m in South Belfast.

    Haven’t seen an Anna Lo newsletter in a while, but I am tired of sticking the SF, UUP and SDLP scandal sheets in the blue bin.

    As fot the DUP, they don’t think we can vote for any other party, so we have forgotten about Mr Stalford and . . . what’s his name ?

  • Bangor West

    In North Down Green Party MLA Brian Wilson issues his West Bangor News at least twice a year and has done so for the past 20 years.

    This is a major factor in him becoming an MLA.

  • THis is off topic, but what percentage of Protestants/RCs would you say there are in the Alliance party??

    Don’t know. Never asked. Reasonably even numbers, I would guess.

  • Eddie

    Where I live I never ever ever hear from my Ulster Unionists MLAs or Councillors. I wrote to two of the Unionist MLAs about a year back – but never received a reply. This is a party which seems to be asleep, dozing perhaps in their expensively-funded constituency offices, doing little (except, perhaps their expenses sheets)

    I have heard from the DUP, but have been put off because they seem to take credit for anything and everything that that has happened – from the good weather, to god knows what. Honest? I dunno.

    There was a salvo from another MLA. He never ever mentioned what party he was in. Only on close scrutiny, in very small print, could you see that it was something to do with the Alliance Party. Personality before party?

    What an absolute shower the majority of these people are in this over-represented, over-administered, over public-sectored place.

  • SDLP South Antrim


    The SDLP in South Antrim delivered around 4000 newsheets and cards to rural and urban Crumlin in the past 2 or 3 weeks.

    I know because I made them and delivered a lot of the urban ones myself.

    Your house must have got missed, we don’t get 100% all the time. You don’t have a big angry dog chained up in the driveway do you?

  • Essentialist

    @ Mark McGregor

    Since you are on about communication through the letter box and have a history with penning SF communiques “mainly because I was helping write them and was certainly sticking them through hundreds of letter boxes.” perhaps you can explain why the announcement of Caitriona Ruane’s visit to Antrim Thursday week ago to present her education “proposals” was described as a “public meeting” but was noticed only to certain selected households?
    Are SF eluctant to use a “junk mail company” lest they have to pay for delivering junk when they can have the taxpayer pay for their ministers to talk it?