North Belfast election shock

News that will have surely spooked both the Dodds and Kelly camps – a new Independent candidate seems about to enter the fray in North Belfast.

Martin McAuley claims he is to join the contest. You can read his manifesto here, follow him on twitter or Facebook.

Yes, the poster does say ‘Tough on crime. Tougher on women drivers’

  • Keithbelfast

    Good luck, but the sheer scale of the task in front of him is becoming evident.

    From Facebook: “yeoo martin im confused!!! ryt c when it cumes to the voting… is ur name gona b on the sheet so i no wot to do.. cuz ive never voted b4… and wots ur party called?”

  • Border Fox

    Have to say I like his other election poster…

    Chairman LMAO !

  • Know this young man. He’s one for the future.

  • Procrasnow

    Well why not, young blood, get rid of the old rot.

    Can’t be any worse than the present

    Give him a go.

  • miss

    pretty much everyone who is voting for him has never even registered to to vote before. pretty sure that says something about young people in our community.

  • Seosamh913

    An obligatory reference in these circumstances, I know, but still….

  • I like the idea of new people, new ideas. It appears his support is young. I wish him luck. Hes gunna need it.

  • cut the bull

    He sounds like an alliance party dissident.

  • cut the bull

    he could call his party the Balliance Party.The middle ground party with cahonies

  • Stephen Blacker

    North Belfast could do worse! Fresh new blood, maybe it’s just what politics needs!

  • David ‘Horny’ Ford

    Diane Dodds or Catriona Ruane?

  • 8#

    Care to enlarge on ‘word’.

  • Michael McQuillan

    i like his approach, some great ideas in the manifesto, but also finally a politician with a sense of humour. just what we need to shake things up!

  • “I will attend at least 70% of votes within the Commons if elected to make sure North Belfast’s voice is heard in Westminster.”

    Good lad.

  • Pete Baker


    *Shakes head and walks away*

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Inane shite. Inane shite. Inane shite. Talking out of my arse. Bollocks. Bollocks. Bollocks. Inane shite.

  • iluvni

    12.“I will attend at least 70% of votes within the Commons if elected to make sure North Belfast’s voice is heard in Westminster.”

    That would put the current double jobbing greedy troughers to shame.

  • Is there something wrong with this thread? I have several emails supposedly from this page and certainly leading to this page, but the obscene comments are not on this page…

  • Keithbelfast


  • The Raven

    One of the office crew was talking about some Radio 1 thing today…an election piece they do for the young’uns… Obviously I am no longer demographic for Radio 1 at 35.

    Something about 70% of the kids they were working with/polling wouldn’t be voting.

    First time voter turn out at the last election was something like 37%.

    There’s SUCH an opportunity for change here, and everyone seems scared to grasp it. Me included.

  • Keithbelfast

    Yes I get that, Im just surprised the emails are getting through, that doesnt usually happen.

  • test


  • Mark McGregor


    Apologies. Working on the problem. We are aware of who it is and it is very typical behaviour from him across numerous websites and many years.

  • richiep

    If there’s such a huge number of first time and previously non voters in this constituency , why don’t they go to the bookies tomorrow, back him to win and then make sure they vote and get as many others as possible to do so as well. Worked famously in local elections in Cork 20 years ago.

  • Mark McGregor

    Not a problem, just unusual.

  • LabourNIman

    well, he’s got my vote. seriously!

  • i ran away. couldn’t handle it.

    aye McGregor, away and drool over eirigi

  • old school

    Who’ll suffer most from this?
    (A round about way of asking does he play rugby or hurling?)

  • Drumlins rock


    spoils the fun of it lol

  • Moochin Photoman

    (A round about way of asking does he play rugby or hurling?)

    Posted by old school on Apr 16, 2010 @ 10:35 PM

    Why is that or should that be important old school?

  • Michael McQuillan

    martin does not play sports, the only thing he’s competing for is your vote =)

  • Patrick

    *disclaimer before anyone points fingers, I’m helping Martin in his campaign*

    I always thought fairness and transparency in Parliament, decent policies and a desire to co-operate with everyone instead of running back to sectarian hurdles would appeal to both sides of the community. Maybe I’m just naive.

    and @miss, are you lamenting the fact that young people are registering to vote and getting involved with politics or am I getting the wrong end of the stick?

  • old school

    To see who’s vote will be split, Moochin. If any.

  • PrivateBob

    ..should there not be [/sarcasm] tags around this article?

    I’m a young voter, this is my first Westminster election and I am looking forward to voting but if I was registered for North Belfast, this guy wouldn’t get my vote.

    I’ve nothing against independents and the idea of a young candidate is heartening, but there’s just too much wrong in his manifesto for me to be able to take him seriously.

    ‘There are more important issues at this local election than whether nationalism or unionism are the way forward’ This isn’t a local election, it’s a national one.

    ‘In the most recent general election only 37% of registered 18-25 year olds voted UK wide, while in Belfast North only 58.1% of the electorate voted in the election.’ You can’t compare like with unlike..what was the percentage of 18-25 year old who voted in North Belfast?

    ‘In an effort to increase efficiency I will support the removal of certain quangos.’ Such as..?

    I agree with a lot of what he is saying, but the vagueness of his policies, coupled with questionable grammar and syntax puts me right off.

    This isn’t meant to be too critical or harsh, but it’s in the spirit of debate. I’ve been through the Northern Ireland Inter-Schools debating championship too so I’m fairly sure Martin McAuley will enjoy these criticisms!

  • old school

    Considering the recent cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Iceland, the grounding of air travel, and the fear of an apopalyptic wipe out of human existance in Northern Europe if Volcano Katna explodes, does Martin think the annual Orange parade in Ardoyne should go ahead or be suspended pending?

  • Okay, I’m going to step into the fray here for a moment.

    PrivateBob seems to have my character pinned, I can’t resist responding to those comments.

    Firstly, my mention of this being a local election wasn’t a comparison of a general election to an assembly election. It was an allusion to the fact that the battleground for this one must be local issues. It can’t be forced into the same constitutional debate that we have every 5 years in North Belfast. I assure you, I’m quite aware of the differences between national and local elections.

    Secondly, I’m not comparing like with unlike in the statistics. You made the comparison in your own mind, I merely suggested the facts of the matter. Nationally 37% of 18-25 year olds vote. An abysmal statistic. We need to spur the younger voter into action (and I have a number of initiatives planned for the campaign). To focus on North Belfast itself, there was a turnout of 58.1%. Not far over half of the constituency. As a whole, there’s a general apathy in the community. Again I wasn’t intentionally making a direct comparison there, merely stating the facts.

    Okay as for quangos, I’m talking about a few things. Firstly the justice department needs to make itself efficient from the start. A large sum of money has been invested from Westminster, it shouldn’t be wasted. In the absence of the ministry we’ve seen the creation of district policing partnerships, policing boards, community watch groups. There is far too much overlap, it needs to be trimmed into a more flexible service.
    Equally there are inefficiencies in the housing executive for example, not creating a joined up approach but instead acting as a “middle man” signposting people in a different direction every week.
    There’s also big communication problems interdepartmentally that can fit into this area. (Ask any senior civil servant)

    The manifesto (and mini-festo) are deliberately short. We were trying to create documents that the electorate can engage with, can question me about. Rather than a 103 page doorstop.

    In addition I’ve already challenged the other candidates in North Belfast to a public debate. I hope at that type of event I can elaborate on the policies mentioned in the campaign literature.

    (And don’t worry, I understand the spirit of debate)

  • old school

    Have you ever financed a small business with a ginger haired bloke from Castlereagh whilst maintaining a sexual relationship?

    Sorry for the prodding (can I say “prodding”), but in the rough and tumble world of politics, you’re gonna get a lot of these type of questions.

  • soandso

    You have his name, you can Google him to find out the details fo if he’s a hurling or rugby fellow. But I think it’s good to see someone without grey hairs involved in an elecion and both North and South Belfast have canidates who really grew up with ceasefires and relative peace.

  • soandso

    I so agree with you!

  • Comrade Stalin

    he could call his party the Balliance Party.

    I love it. Add one letter B and we’ve got balls.

  • Comrade Stalin

    In the absence of the ministry we’ve seen the creation of district policing partnerships, policing boards, community watch groups. There is far too much overlap, it needs to be trimmed into a more flexible service.

    Martin, I’m not sure where you’re aiming your pair of scissors. There is one Police Board and a series of DPPs. The DPP meetings I’ve been at have been well attended. They are mainly used as a forum to bring complaints to the police, but that in no way diminishes their usefulness. My experience is that they are effective in focussing police attention on a problem, and that can be achieved by just one resident. I definitely don’t think they should be curtailed or cut.

    What we do need to do is talk about how the policing service can be best resourced. This is something that has been talked about within Alliance, especially as part of our focus on the role of the justice minister. It’s a great soundbite to have people saying that we need to recruit more police and so on, but one police officer who is well equipped and trained is going to be far more effective than two police officers who are not. This is something that I think Matt Baggott has a handle on, hence his talk about the police car becoming the police station; all the technology exists to make this possible, so there is no reason why the police can’t do it.

    It’s not policing where I’d aim the cuts. The problems here are in the duplication of public services. Especially in housing and education. We’ve got two of everything, one for prods and one for taigs. Time to stop that.

  • al

    This is exactly what we need, young blood in politics not the old politicians who clearly still align themselves with one side or the other. I’m at the age were I remember the last of the bombs and the change to relative peace. The politics of N Ireland need a major shake up and some proper non-tribal politics introduced. Young independents like Mr McAuley are right to enter the debate and show the older generation that we understand politics as it should be.

    Of course people will say “oh he didn’t live through this he doesn’t understand the hurt etc etc”. Maybe not but hearing stories from our elders and reading about the past is an excellent advantage for the new breed of politicians in N Ireland. Their minds are not corrupted. Too many politicians in N Ireland have inbeded memories of the past holding them back. The sooner the old men and women of Stormont give politics to the younger generation the better.

  • Fair play to you for putting your ahead above the parapet. With it firmly exposed, let me aim a few questions at it:

    Your economic policies seem to be about cutting ‘bureaucracy’ and little else. Lots of people in Northern Ireland work in or are dependent upon the public sector, so where would you wield the knife? People will be looking to know a bit more detail.

    What is the significance of the 70% figure with regards to Westminster attendance? What if a lot of the debates are not relevant to your constituents and your time would be better served on the ground in North Belfast?

    What are your policies on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Identity Cards and on the renewal of the Trident missile system? Surely these are a bigger waste of money than Ministry of Justice paperclips?

  • James McVeigh

    Well said McQuillan. Having known Martin for years, a nationalist/unionist position is quite unknowable with him. He just seems to be rational. Imagine that, a politician who wants to do good for the people of North Belfast instead of scoring petty points in parading.

  • PrivateBob

    That was a good response Martin, but I think the point by 1967 is relevant too. Cutting bureaucracy means cutting jobs. It’s also a big leap from ‘Department x needs to be more efficient’ which anyone could say to ‘we will make efficiency savings in department x by cutting Y, streamlining Z and promoting policy A.’

    While it’s true that ‘all politics is local politics’ your views on national issues such as Trident, taxation, defence spending and foreign relations would be useful for the electorate.

    I have to agree with al in that new blood is good for politics, but I don’t think ignorance of history is beneficial for anyone in public life. It is only from looking as impartially as we can at the past that we can avoid making the same mistakes twice.

    Nonetheless, fair play and good luck to you for opening yourself to questions in the comments on Slugger, it is certainly an example that should be replicated by others!

  • Scaramoosh

    The Nick Clegg of Ulster politics.

  • Rory Carr

    I hardly think that making savings by constantly sharpening his pencil and writing on both sides of House of Commons notepaper, which is all that McAuley, in the unlikeliehood of his being elected, would actually be able to effect, will be sufficient to make much of a dent on the National Debt.

    Still, bless him, his little heart’s in the right place. I’m sure his mammy will vote for him.

  • Well at least Martin has achieved something already. A thread on Slugger that is actually discussing points made in the original post, and sticking to the thread.

  • I wish I was in his constituency. He would have my vote.

    In fact I think he may be a bit ahead of the time, but it is so refreshing to see an attempt to break the barrier, and it is if nothing else a clear sign the peace is working and change will come.

  • Pete Baker


    “In the absence of the ministry we’ve seen the creation of district policing partnerships, policing boards, community watch groups. There is far too much overlap, it needs to be trimmed into a more flexible service.”

    As you probably know, there are already proposals under consultation to do just that.

  • As there’s been a decent amount of interest I’m happy to keep my head above the parapet.

    I’ll try to address some of the concerns so far.

    @ ComradeStalin Of course I agree that we must fund the police effectively. They constitute a frontline service of course and must be able to do their job effectively. However, we must not ignore the inefficiencies in the service. (I encourage you all to have a look at Pete’s post above)
    It’s no use throwing money at the service if it’s still leaking funds elsewhere. You have to plug the holes in the boat before you can set sail.
    I agree with you though. We have an outlandish duplication of services in housing and education. In fact I can give you an example that I’ve experienced. The assembly is currently trying to promote youth participation. So to this end the assembly commission has plans to create a “youth assembly”. At the same time the department of education is creating a “network for youth”. Essentially, they’ll do the same thing. It’s an outrageous waste of money supplied by westminster. Then the local ministers will complain when they have to find efficiency savings.

    @nineteensixtyseven The knife will be wielded at service duplication, at the reduction of multiple bodies created for the same purpose, reform of the civil service. Those are primary aims. Only when we have an efficient streamlined service can we begin to highlight areas for further cuts if necessary. And even then, frontline public services must be protected.

    70% is significant because I intend to do the job of an MP. The power invested in any successful candidate is the power to cast a vote at Westminster. The current MP for North Belfast has attended less than half of the votes and yet boasts about his voting record in campaign literature. He has failed to meet a reasonable standard for his constituents. I don’t intend to make that mistake.
    Also, bear in mind that 70% of votes does not equate to 70% of my time. I still plan to be active in the constituency and have a track record of being active.

    A point to remember about my manifesto, it’s meant for the average person to read, the ordinary person who lives in the constituency. That’s why there’s a primary focus on local issues. I can handle some of the issues raised here briefly but would encourage anyone interested in these issues to attend one of our planned local meetings or debates to find out more.
    Iraq is all but over, it was based on unsafe legal principles and probably shouldn’t have happened at all. More prevalent is the issue of Afghanistan. There’s no dressing the issue up, it’s ugly. The state is balanced on a knife edge. It would be foolish to withdraw troops immediately. Doing so would only jeopardise the safety of both the Afghan people and, in the long run, those living here. Troops need to be better equipped and the government must not lie to the public about defence expenditure. Only when there is relative stability can we begin to withdraw troops.
    ID cards are a disastrous proposal. A complete waste of money and the creation of another layer of unnecessary identity legislation. Such proposals would only benefit fraudsters and serve to embarrass the home office in the long run.
    Trident is an old weapons system for an old war. However with the new international nuclear treaties, upgrading our own systems would be counterproductive and antagonistic to the global goal of reducing weapons stockpiles. We can’t afford renewal schemes when defence funds are better placed elsewhere.

    Hope that clears a few issues up.

  • Drumlins rock

    Martin, if elected which of the two largest westminister parties would you support if you vote was essential to them forming a government?

  • Comrade Stalin


    I think your ideas are fine (I don’t think the police are the right target for cuts at this point, though), but are you aware that “doing your job as an MP” you won’t have the means to change these inefficiencies ? Certainly you can argue that someone who votes for you is voting to endorse what you’re saying, but all of the matters you’re dealing with have been devolved to the NI Assembly.

    I agree with all your points. We can’t have a slash and burn but we do need to more seriously appraise the way public money is spent in this country. The custodians of the public purse should spend the money as if it was their own.

    The points about Trident, Iraq and Afghanistan, for me, come back to a related point : the UK is still acting as if it is a major world military power. Trident isn’t an independent nuclear deterrent (it’s American) and the equipment problems and loss of life in Iraq and Afghanistan show that the UK doesn’t really have the financial muscle to properly pursue major wars.

    Please keep doing what you’re doing. The big parties talk about doing non-sectarian, non-tribal, bread and butter politics, but people like yourself, and Alliance, are the only people approaching the matter with a bit of sense.

  • David

    Does anyone know if there are any other candidates standing other than from the 6 main parties?

  • Nicky

    There’s a claim that Martin is ‘typical’ of north Belfast folk – hardly given his privelleged education at first St Malachy’s Grammer School followed by entrance to Queen’s University!!

    There’s a claim that we shouldn’t care what flag flies over City Hall, yet will the historic injustices against 6 county Irish Catholics, since the formation of the northern state, be best served by someone ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist and possibly never have?

  • Bubba


  • Nicky, Martin may well have gone to St Malachy’s and Queen’s but he is from a working class family in the Oldpark area and he has got where he is due to hard work. Anyone in North Belfast could go to a grammar or university if they work for it which Martin, and myself, have done. And we have never claimed that we shouldn’t care about the colour of the flag over City Hall – we simply said that it shouldn’t be the sole focus of every election campaign. Everyone in Belfast has their own views on the constitutional question – I’m no different – but it shouldn’t be used as a tool to divide the electorate. We should look to the issues that directly affect the economy and the electorate instead of focussing on ONE issue. And Bubba, you could always call into the Public Records Office to see it if you want lol