What’s the difference between Jim Allister & John McCallister? Between Steven Agnew or Basil McCrea & Claire Sugden? The answer is about £25,600. That’s how much the NI Assembly’s ‘Financial Assistance for Political Parties’ scheme values a party at, one with even just 1 MLA. There are currently 18 independent members of Dáil Éireann, 11% of the entire house, often providing starkly liberated representation, generally free from the concerns of party politics. There are 2 independent members of the Northern … Read more
After the release of the Committee for Standards and Privileges’ report earlier in March, Basil McCrea said he would fight the Assembly election as NI21’s sole candidate. Now the Lagan Valley MLA has done a U-turn and told the Belfast Telegraph that he is to quit Stormont, disillusioned with the political process.
They will eat you up if you don’t feed them, said Phillip Gould, Tony Blair’s favourite pollster. After breaking away from the Ulster Unionist party along with John McCallister Basil McCrea has told the Belfast Telegraph that he is calling it a day on politics… “I was disappointed that certain parts of the report didn’t get the attention they deserved, particularly the issue of conspiracy,” he said. “The report was unequivocal. Ridiculous allegations that were made two years ago have … Read more
DOCTORED PHOTOGRAPHS were ignored in last night’s uncomfortable interview between Mark Carruthers and Basil McCrea on The View. It should have been the Lagan Valley MLA’s opportunity to quickly draw a line under the last two years of allegations, accept that he could be more patient with staff and pivot the narrative back onto the electoral hopes for himself and his party.
LOYAL OPPOSITION: During this term of the Assembly there has been a growing number of independent and minor party MLAs who sit just behind the Alliance party in the chamber. They range from Steven Agnew on the left to Jim Allister on the right, from moderate Unionists like John McCallister to more middle of the road folks like Basil McCrea.
Jonny McCarthy, councillor on Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has resigned from NI21 as of this morning. Cllr McCarthy, also deputy leader of the party for just over a year, announced on his facebook page this morning that he was leaving NI21 as he feels he “could do the job better (if) independent of the party.” With party leader Basil McCrea now remaining as the only elected official within the party following a series of high profile party departures, John McCallister … Read more
At Thursday night’s Slugger O’Toole Tweet Up in the Hudson Bar, Basil McCrea took the opportunity to deliver a more elaborate speech than the informal remarks I’d expected. (Earlier in the evening Máirtín Ó Muilleoir also stopped by for some casual craic.) The NI21 leader has been unusually quiet for a protracted period, though answered a few media questions after his party’s conference in December, and has been speaking much less sporadically [Ed – you mean, speaking more often?] in … Read more
The petition of concern was designed to protect minority rights in the Stormont Assembly. As former SDLP leader Mark Durkan explained “the petition of concern facility was put into the agreement to safeguard communal sensitivities and specifically to protect equality and human rights considerations”. Alliance MP Naomi Long pointed out that “the petition of concern was designed to offer protection to minorities within the assembly, where decisions of a sensitive nature risked being imposed upon them against their will.” Unfortunately … Read more
Tonight our esteemed elected representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly are due to debate driving licences. Good news – I hear you cry – at last some action may be taken to address the disparity in the cost of driving licences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Last week there was much consternation when it was revealed that learner drivers in Northern Ireland pay nearly twice the price for a provisional licence compared to elsewhere in the UK – £62.50 … Read more
The rising poverty rates in the Western world have been hitting the headlines. Writing for Slugger the NI21 Leader, Basil McCrea writes about what can be down about this issue President Obama has been criticised for plans in his State Of The Union Address aimed at introducing tax benefits for childcare, college education and retirement. His crime? The initiatives would be funded by raising funds from banks and rich families and pumping the estimated $300bn. raised into initiatives which would … Read more
As of January 1st 2015 Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where same sex marriage remains illegal. A new law on gay marriage came into effect in Scotland in December 2014 and the first same sex weddings were held at 00:01 on Hogmanay. A total of 250 couples have converted their civil partnerships to marriage since the new law – the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill – came into effect on 16 December. Same-sex marriage … Read more
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] listen to ‘NI21 chair Olive Buckley @Olive1309, deputy leader @paralisamour & leader @BasilMcCrea after AGM’ on audioBoom This afternoon’s meeting of NI21 members was characterised … Read more
NI21 have been out of the headlines in the six months or so. But this afternoon’s meeting of members will be the first opportunity they’ve had to gather in the one place and talk as a party since the events of May 2014. Why hold an AGM now? With only 26 days to go before the beginning of 2015, NI21 had to hold an Annual Conference (or AGM) given the current constitution’s stipulation that “there shall be at least one … Read more
Today on BBC Talkback, DUP councillor Lee Reynolds finally publicly confirmed that the DUP and UUP had paid for and distributed leaflets described by authors of the QUB report as having a ‘catalytic effect’ in the run-up to the city hall vote,” The report states “It was this, more than anything else, which inflamed the mood at that point” listen to ‘Ownership of leaflet that provided ‘catalyst’ for flag protests confirmed by DUP councillor’ on audioBoom // The protests as … Read more
It says something about a political party when the satirical website to which is has been linked is more important than the party. Or that the revelation of that link is more significant than an interview with its former deputy leader and a former leadership contender for a major NI political party. That it seems is the fate of NI21 and John McCallister respectively. Alex Kane has a long interview with John McCallister in the News Letter today with Sam … Read more
Basil McCrea will once again be without an effective constituency organisation in Lagan Valley. This evening the executive of his local NI21 constituency group have all resigned from the faltering party. [David Cairns, chair of the LV Exec remains.] It’s a pretty bad show of confidence when the party leader’s local group desert him … though given the lack of meaningful communication during the drawn out crisis, it is hardly surprising. Local NI21 councillor Johnny McCarthy wasn’t on the Lagan … Read more
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 … Read more
Well here we go again! The ongoing civil war within NI21 has courted a great deal of friction between the party executive and the deputy leader. Tonight Slugger has obtained a letter from Carecall outlining the investigation process until its eventual suspension. The letter was addressed to the deputy leader, John McCallister and the current party chair, Jayne Howson. Below unedited is a copy of that letter (only thing taken out is the name of the person signing the letter): … Read more
Last night the Vixens hosted a statement from the NI21 Executive about the recent allegations and just who stopped the Carecall investigation. Tonight the party deputy leader, John McCallister speaks to Slugger responding to what he believes is an inaccurate statement from the party executive and paints a bleak picture of his future in the party, alongside what he believes is the inevitable death of the party. I began the interview by asking him to respond to the statement that … Read more