NI21 is here and here to stay, no matter what form it may take. Let no-one make any mistake about that.

Tommy Maguire who is a member of NI21 writes for Slugger about his belief that there is still a bright future for the party

What I am going to write is my opinion alone, not NI21’s, and I certainly do not speak on behalf of any individual member other than myself.

NI21 is not about the two leaders. Listen, does anyone join any political party because of who is leading them? Surely that in itself is a flawed logic, leadership will always change. And when it does, what then? Hope that someone you really like takes over? Or leave to go somewhere else?

No, NI21 is a movement of people. The sum of all its part’s. The sum of its entire membership and the values that each and every member brings to the political arena. The sum of individuals sick and tired of our politicians not delivering and making hollow promises. The sum of people not afraid to challenge the establishment of NI politics. The sum of people trying to deliver a bright and prosperous future through engagement and action, not prevent progress through disengagement and complacency.

People should always join and support a party because of policy and its ability to deliver, right? Not because of the profile of some of its members and leaders.

It has been a bit of an NI21 war cry since the council elections but the reality speaks for itself; almost 10,500 first preference votes and a councillor elected to office. This despite the collapse of the leadership and the apparent “dysfunction” brought to public attention spectacularly.

I think that fact in itself has proven that the ethos of NI21 has a place in NI politics. I don’t really do “what ifs” but I can’t help but wonder what we could have achieved with a relative utopia and harmony within the party going in to the elections …

Seeing some of the nasty, unthoughtful, and inconsiderate comments by some members and candidates from other parties, (and those “unaffiliated”),in the wake of this saga has given me, and many others, assurance that I want nothing to do with those same parties. I am not talking about constructive criticism and tongue in cheek jabs. I am talking about proper ridicule, even going as far to call people stupid for voting for NI21. Taking comments of individuals and twisting them to reflect them as a view of an entire party. Twisting the knife in to the back of NI21 members one day and then courting them the next to leave NI21. Gloating at an apparent capitulation of NI21, ignorant (or not), of the hurt those involved may have been feeling. And most of those comments are void of any fact or knowledge of the issues surrounding the party born of complete ignorance.

While people like those exist in any party they will continue to be part of the Northern Ireland problem, not the solution.

Politics shouldn’t be about out-shouting or out-abusing the opposition in to submission. It should be about making constructive opposition, about offering real solutions to real problems for all classes of people, and by embracing ideas that offer real value to NI, even if those ideas come from opposition.

Trying to endorse collaborative working relationships to others outside of NI21 just seemed to be a step too far for some to grasp, sadly. It is amazing how offensive people find a party like NI21, a party who is trying to force the establishment to work for the people instead of strategically working the people for votes, seats, and power. Or maybe not so hard to see where offense could be taken …

The Basil and John saga I have no doubt will roll on. But as a party we must let that be a side-line now. There has already been a lot of hard, positive work put in to keep things moving. The Interim Exec have had the thankless task of trying to move things forward. Nonetheless they have been tireless in their efforts and some of the initiatives emerging are exactly what the party needs to move on. I am delighted to fully support them as we move on.

I am not naïve though. Depending how this leadership debacle ends NI21 as a brand may not survive. But as a movement it most certainly will survive, with or without any of the two leaders at the helm.

Let what emerges from this be a shining example to all that no matter what adversity is thrown your way spirit, determination, and belief in what you fight for will overcome anything. Let those naysayers and detractors create effective opposition instead of cowardly, faceless, destabilisation if they want to challenge our validity as a voice for all in Northern Ireland.

NI21 is here and here to stay, no matter what form it may take. Let no-one make any mistake about that.

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