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.)


  • The party has been quicker to collapse than to rise, with each new day there are more revelations of resignations and loss of financial support. In terms of office holders the party is smaller than the TUV and is fighting with the PUP for the dubious honor of being the weakest of the unionist parties, although it seems to have declined that when it made its totally unnecessary decision to redesignate as “other.” The party in that category is now in the realm of the now defunct Women’s Coalition of Northern Ireland.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Yes and after nearly 24 hours with only one response thus far I think nobody else cares about it anymore.

  • Shibboleth

    I would have thought that if John so wished he may consider the possibility of exploring a new party with Claire Sugden. David McClarty had said he wanted to remain an independent through this session. Obviously I’m not aware of Claire’s views on this matter but it might be worth watching.

  • Comrade Stalin


    NI21 is in crisis because Basil fucked it up. Nobody will join his party or merge with it.

  • Charles_Gould

    I think it was an interesting experiment, and it showed there was a viable niche for such a party, had it been better led.

    The problem was in the leadership. I am sure that many of those (including myself) who originally thought the UUP made the wrong leadership choices over the last leadership elections – especially the choice of Elliott over McCrea – can now see that McCrea would have been too much of a risk.

  • For once, I completely agree with Charles. I too thought that McCrea looked a better bet than Elliott at the time (though not by much). But the key factor in these elections is often not what candidates say, but how the selectorate feels that they will work as leaders and managers, and despite Elliott’s own faults in this area (remember his odd resignation statement?) the Ulster Unionist Council clearly felt he was the lesser risk.

  • The “middle ground” voters are the people most let down.
    Unionist voters have a choice DUP or UUP.
    Nationalists have a choice SF or SDLP.
    Alliance remain market leader with a monopoly of the that narrow electorate.
    They will be mightily relieved as the implosion of NI21….
    Another Womens Coalition might stir things up a bit.