Cllr Johnny McCarthy elected new NI21 Deputy Leader + short interview with Basil

Shortly after this afternoon’s special meeting – or AGM – of NI21 finished, the party’s leader Basil McCrea MLA, chair Olive Buckley and newly-elected deputy leader shadow Councillor Johnny McCarthy agreed to a short interview. It was a joint interview with Adam Kula from the News Letter, so you’ll hear his voice at times. [audio|video]

This afternoon’s meeting of NI21 members was characterised as an AGM, or a “special meeting” called by the party Executive under the terms of its current constitution. It stopped short of being the annual meeting the party requires itself to have. No one in the party would give exact figures, but it’s estimated that 40-45 people were present in the upstairs room in The MAC. A handful of council candidates could be recognised heading into the meeting.

Basil McCrea explained afterwards that today was an opportunity to talk directly to the party membership. The party had filled the vacancy of deputy leader. Lisburn & Castlereagh shadow Councillor Johnny McCarthy – the only person successfully elected to the party – was nominated and endorsed.

However, there was neither any challenge to Basil’s leadership, nor any attempt to re-elect him as the leader nor to formally elect the Executive, many of whom are temporary appointments made by the leader awaiting the next “annual conference”.

Olive Buckley said that the party “recognised there were inconsistencies in the current constitution” and as chairperson she “wanted to address those”. (As chair she has the ability to address matters that the constitution is silent on – subject to challenge by two-thirds of members present). Some proposals for constitutional change were put to the membership today and accepted, and will be ratified at the next annual conference.

Asked whether the party was going to continue being very low profile, Basil McCrea explained that the members present wanted time to engage and talk through policy issues and priorities.

[Staying under the radar is counter-productive for the party given the ongoing political talks and the perfect opportunity for a better-functioning NI21 to be engaging from the sidelines with fresh ideas and measured suggestions. If NI21 does revitalise itself, it will be criticised by the larger parties for its silence.]

Johnny McCarthy said that the message of NI21 was unchanged.

The “annual conference” that the NI21 constitution mandates is held at least once every calendar year does not seem to be going ahead in 2014 … though unless the party members protest, there’s no sanction for being unconstitutional!

A decision – or at least an announcement – on whether NI21 will run any candidates for Westminster in May 2015 seems likely to be made at the “spring” annual conference.

Party members attending the AGM were mostly reluctant to speak to the media. But from the cursory conversations that were possible, it felt like members’ loyalty was more often to the ideals of NI21 – the fresh middle-ground politics that it promised at launch – rather than a strict loyalty to the party’s leader. Recovery of the party will be slow … if it’s even possible.

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  • Ernekid

    40 odd people doesn’t make a political party. What was the attitude amongst attendees Alan? Where they looking to wrap things up for good?

    If not, was there any discussion of the Westminster elections? Will they stand candidates? It is a certainty that Basil McCrea will lose his Assembly seat eventually. Has he discussed his plans for when he leaves politics?

  • The meeting was private, so the discussions upstairs weren’t shared in any detail. A decision on Westminster seems to be something they’ll address at their party conference next year in the spring.

  • aor26

    No mention in this article about the sexual harassment allegations currently levelled against Basil. Do we only raise sexual abuse issues when the allegations are levelled at Sinn Fein ?

  • Bryan Magee

    His Deputy Resigned as a result. Compare and contrast Mary Lou.

  • notimetoshine

    Well I’ll tell you one thing they must have stopped contacting their wider party membership because this is the first I have heard from ni21 in a while and I can’t remember reieving any information about this meeting. Or did they handpick the attendees?

  • chrisjones2

    The is a bit like being appointed Vice Captain on The Titanic as she slides beneath the waves

    And we had such hope

  • Comrade Stalin

    This is just feckin weird.

    Why have a private meeting but tell the media about it ? Why even agree to an interview ?

  • sean treacy

    Earth shattering news indeed.I also heard today that Accrington Stanley reserves have signed a new goalkeeper.

  • notimetoshine

    And of course as I said below I have to assume all members of the party weren’t informed. First I have heard of ni21 for a while but ostensibly I am supposed to be a member. A joke.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You didn’t know, but the media did. Priorities.

  • notimetoshine

    I mean I’m not expecting a personal call or anything nor was I of any importance just am ordinary member lol but I would expect the membership or whatever remains of it would be communicated with. I have a funny feeling this may just have been some people close to McCrea and McCarthy. But still priorities. Why they even told the media is beyond me.

  • Gerry Leddy

    No don’t be waiting for a personal call, I can tell you from experience that is not forthcoming.

  • Gerry Leddy

    funny been thinking exactly the same scenario

  • Trap 6

    This might be a silly question, but why dont former / disgruntled NI21-ers join the Alliance?

  • notimetoshine

    Because alliance have become part of the problem that is the executive. But ni21 I really had hope for but it was ruined by ego and sheer stupidity. Its ideas were good.

  • Trap 6

    Good ideas? Such as…

  • notimetoshine

    Their stand on an opposition and reform of the executive, their contempt for the executive and the people in it, their aggressive stand on integrated education and a more general feeling of vigor in non sectarian politics. O would also say as a former alliance member I always felt more comfortable with ni21 than alliance as a nationalist from a working class background as my and others I know have a perception (and it may be only perception) of alliance as a well meaning but essentially do gooder party of north down protestants.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Some have.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Their stand on an opposition and reform of the executive

    People in this country have a uniformly simple, rules-based attitude to politics. We are told that creating an opposition and reforming the executive will fix problems in the same way that we are told that introducing corporation tax cuts will magically boost the economy. We put our faith in simple axioms rather than realizing that we need policy depth and a long term strategy.

    The problem up at the assembly is crap politicians. Fiddling with the mechanisms for most part will not stop the public from electing crap politicians. Offering the public a genuine alternative manifesto at least stands a chance.

    NI21 did not do this and to my knowledge are still not positioned to do so. The party looks likely to miss the opportunity to effectively campaign in the 2015 elections.

    as my and others I know have a perception (and it may be only perception) of alliance as a well meaning but essentially do gooder party of north down protestants.

    Policy criticism I can understand but your issue here seems to be to do with personality and background. I do not care about the religion or the background of who represents me if their values are right. If you look at personality rather than policy in this way you’re going to end up disappointed.

    This is another problem that we have here; people have totally unrealistic expectations of politicians. Criticizing Alliance for being in the Executive is legitimate. But it is not by itself a reason to vote against the party. A significantly increased Alliance mandate would change the course of government in this country. That is true whether the party are in the executive or not.

  • notimetoshine

    OK I take the point regarding my perception of alliancealliance. but I should say this has been influenced by fa!ily and friends who see alliance as being a bunch of beardy ecumenical types, I see them as far more cynical but frankly the idea of their being north dpwn, middle class and yes very liberal protestantunionists is something that can skew my opinion of them. I remember when I joined alliance and was laughed at by quite a few people because of this perception. However that is something that I have to work on.

    Ni21 was a good start. While I never thought the would be the panacea for our troubles they did at first appear to be a viable party in terms of ideas and ethos. Unfortunately they were amateur and expressed themselves very poorly. Though this is a moot point really as theyare dead in the water which is a crying shame because however imperfect they were a real alternative.

    I take youe point regarding the process not being the solution to all our troubles and I can’t agree more with your opinion of our politicos. However you have to build something on a solid foundation and frankly an opposition (and for that matter designation) would go some way to addressing the gaping democratic deficit in stormont. An official opposition would also bring some much needed accountability and challenge to a government that has free reign backed up by the promise of collapse and sectarian strife if they don’t. We could have the most competent politicians in the world but without the structures in place they would still fail.

    Alliance being in the executive is more than enough reason not to vote for them, they are proping up a system that perpetuates crass bigotry, division and useless governance which would appear to be at odds with their principles.

    But all of this is a moot point for me anyway now.

  • notimetoshine

    As I have come to realise that the people of NI vote these people in so they deserve everything they get

  • James McBrien

    Were you paid up for last year?

  • Have you paid your dues?!! All party members should have been invited … get in touch with Johnny if you weren’t!

  • You’ll find that media were told by members, not the party centrally! And agreeing to a short interview was better than the optics of walking out with people shouting questions but getting no answers!

  • chrisjones2

    Yeah and they drew 1-1 yesterday against Yeovil

  • chrisjones2

    Thats not fair.look at what Mary Lou has to contend with:

    President conceals brother’s pedophilia

    President arrested in connection with McConville murder

    Lies about No Water Charges in de Nurth

    Revelation about Lyndsey murder and Provo internal murders in the 1970s for personal reasons

    Failure to tell last 5 hunger strikers of the deal on the Table

    Cover up of rape and pedophilia for over 30 years

    Dodgy charities and creaming off money from expenses

    £750k for ‘research’ no-one has seen and that’s too confidential to even say what it was

    The Brits pumping money in to SF to support the peace process by undermining democratic parties in the Republic

    All in all its not easy covering Gerry’s back and faulty memory

  • PaulT

    Sadly Chris, all this only exists within Sluggers hazy bitter orange bubble, step outside and you see SF as the biggest party in Ireland, Adams is the most popular party leader, SF are seen as the ‘opposition’ in the Dail as FF fade away

    And Slugger along with others drop Cahill like a very hot spud when APRN publish letters and Mairia doesn’t, and Mairia gets vague over RNU membership and dodgy friendships.

    Yeap, it’s all good inside the bubble Chris, I wouldn’t go outside if I were you

  • PaulT

    Obviously nothing to do with you Alan, but a peek at Johnny’s Facebook page seems to indicate that he has ample time to spend trying to rehome stray dogs, so I’d suggest instead of members having to contact Johnny, Johnny should possibly do a bit of work for the party. The stray dogs will still be there in a years time, by the sounds of it NI21 mightn’t be

  • Bryan Magee

    There is also the disgraceful cover up of the murder of Robert McCartney.

  • barnshee

    “Yeap, it’s all good inside the bubble Chris, I wouldn’t go outside if I were you”

    yep given the murderers perverts/child molesters, liars thieves all led by ” the biggest party in Ireland, where ” Adams is the most popular party leader,” outside the bubble I wholeheartedly agree I wouldn`t go outside either.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Well someone leaked it to Willie Frazer soon enough, giving him enough time to get up from Markethill.

  • hugh mccloy

    #Shinnerbot alert !!!!! the silent majority of Ireland laugh at how political parties who claim to be the biggest representatives of people are only minority representatives of the population of Ireland, who seek to use their minority status to rule the majority

  • Ian James Parsley

    Many of them have, including at least two candidates from this year (one in Lagan Valley).

  • kalista63

    Ignoring local issues, much of these problems emirate from the Thatcherite cult in London. But what nonsense is the PUP in its leftism when it not only fails to put the right target in the crosshairs but which shouted down the anti G8 protest at the city hall.

    Now, in all seriousness, how does that stack up?

  • Gerry Leddy

    Oh NI21 will take you money alright, thats one thing for sure

  • Gerry Leddy

    ‘paper’ party

    well I know they were promoting ‘paper’ candidates.

  • Gerry Leddy

    the trio don’t project ‘confidence’ or ‘optimism’,

    they look very glum.

    Still immersed in their self fulfilling prophesy perhaps


  • Gerry Leddy

    Will the new deputy leader be asking the last one for survival tips?

    like should I grow eyes in the back of my head?

    should I be cautious of ‘urgent’ ambush meetings?

  • AMORR86

    ‘I always felt more comfortable with ni21 than alliance as a nationalist from a working class background as my and others I know have a perception (and it may be only perception) of alliance as a well meaning but essentially do gooder party of north down protestants. ‘
    You do see the irony in what you are saying don’t you?
    That you felt more settled in NI21 a party which tries to set itself apart as a new way of thinking than in the Alliance Party because of
    1) ‘North Downers’ (so enlightened you can’t accept people from one constituency) Is it because of their perceived wealth? That is a bit of class warfare and not very ‘tolerant’.
    2) Protestants: Not sectarian enough for you?
    This is what happens inside the delusional ‘centre’ of Northern Ireland politics. All this thinking that enlightenment belongs only to themselves when they fail to realise it they who are the problem all along!

  • PaulT

    the silent majority…..

    Ah the line used by people who can’t find anyone else to agree with them, they pretend everyone does, just silently.

    My ref for SF being biggest is most votes in NI Locals and latest poll in South.

    Care to put up a ref for your ‘silent majority’ or are you just trolling

    ……oh no shinnerbot…look at me….I wanna be popular……shinnerbot……

    Away troll

  • hugh mccloy

    Facts matter, what you just came out with is a predictive standard shinnerbot reply, as does not change the fact that being the majority party means nothing in terms of the population on a whole as the party represents a very small amount of the population, not just SF, all of them.

    The majority stayed at home and did not endorse any politcla party, i know that concept is hard to take on board, political parties are stripped down to core party voters.

    Its plain to see the chaos this has caused among the rank and file who were used to everything they say being taken as gospel and people voting blindly for a candidate based along the sectarian headcount.

    It has caused mass fear among the rank and file of Sinn Fein more so than others due to their toxic transfer status.

    If you are not open for debate I would suggest not posting on open comment articles,