John out, LRA in, NI21 loses half its external funding, interim exec promise new processes & AGM … later in the day, interim exec lost a member

In this morning’s News Letter Sam McBride joins the dots on the news that John McCallister has finally made good on his promise to resign from NI21 after he felt that staffing issues were under control.

Under Assembly rules, NI21 was paid just under £60,000 per year because it had two MLAs. That will roughly halve now that the party only has one MLA. But as an independent Mr McCallister will no longer receive any money under The Financial Assistance for Political Parties Scheme.

He adds:

The Carecall probe was stopped after the new NI21 executive appointed by Mr McCrea refused to give permission for the investigation to continue. But Mr McCallister said that by the end of this week all of that material should be with the Assembly’s commissioner for standards, Douglas Bain, who has been asked to do his own investigation.

Mr McCallister said that the staffing problems would now be addressed by the Labour Relations Agency (LRA), in conjunction with the party executive. Last night the LRA declined to comment on any involvement with the party due to the confidential nature of its work.

Mr McCallister added: “I’ve taken it as far as I can take it.”

NI21’s interim executive were put in place by party leader Basil McCrea after the rapid exit of all by Basil and John from the original team voted in at the party’s conference last autumn. The interim executive have been criticised by many party members for their lack of communication and radio silence in the aftermath of the party’s implosion before, during and after the May 22 polls.

The interim executive were informed today through the media that John McCallister has resigned as deputy leader and left the party, this was confirmed by a telephone call received today.

Last night, the interim executive emailed members to inform them of John McCallister’s resignation. and outline the work they’re targeting to complete before the party’s AGM (which will be the opportunity to elect a new deputy leader and elect a new party executive).

In the meantime, the interim executive are promising to revise the party’s constitution and put in place a raft of policies and processes, including:

  • Policy on election process of new leader/deputy leader;
  • Code of conduct;
  • Anti-harassment and bullying policy; Social media policy;
  • Disciplinary and grievance procedure and committee;
  • Financial processes;
  • Guidance for constituencies.

The interim executive also intimated that the issue of designation “can be voted on at the AGM, if members desire” given the debate the issue still evokes amongst NI21 membership (and the rapid change of policy 48 hours before the election).

Members will be glad to see that the mostly-silent Executive is back functioning and keen to talk to local groups of members … and they’ll be hoping that the communication hiatus is over for good.

The interim executive wishes to engage with as many members as possible between now and then. Local constituency groups should contact the executive to arrange a date for meeting where members can have their say. We will also endeavour to meet with groups of members where there is no local constituency group.

Whether the party can thrive and rebuild is not certain. Processes and programmes looking at allegations are certainly still proceeding. But at least the lights are on and the party still has two elected representatives … for now.

Update – Another one bites the dust as interim executive member Alistair Straney resigns from the executive and the party.  (Letter from Connor Clements twitter feed.)


Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.