FAPP: The difference between one MLA parties and independents is what exactly?

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…

So you want to start a political party…what now?

What do the DUP, PUP, NI21, Protestant Coalition, NI Conservatives, TUV, UKIP, Irish Republican Socialist Party, Workers Party, SDLP, 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Alliance, Socialist Party, Green Party, Socialist Workers Party, People Before Profit & the Workers Party of Ireland have in common? Every single one of the mentioned parties have formed from another party. In fact there is not a single party currently registered in Northern Ireland that didn’t exist prior to the troubles (or possibly even world war …

Read more…

Same sex marriage? No thanks we’re British

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…

A re-energised John McCallister on expenses, his Assembly and Executive Reform Bill, and the role of independents

John McCallister may be ex-UUP and ex-NI21, but he’s not planning to be ex-politics. I spoke to the South Down independent unionist late last week. He’s rebuilding his profile and perhaps also his reputation after been seen as the person who pulled the plug on NI21 a day or two before the May 2014 elections. On top of “a fairly hefty workload of constituency work” he’s ploughing effort into a Private Members Bill to address Assembly and Executive Reform. After …

Read more…

Platform for Change panel of politicians fails to inspire about how to overcome political inertia

Platform for Change’s latest – and perhaps last – panel event was hosted last night by Mark Carruthers in the Crescent Arts Centre. Around 40 people attended the session with its bizarrely worded title: Political Inertia to a Flourishing Society – How? The six panellists from centre-ground parties made four minute opening statements before the discussion was opened to the floor. Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP leader, MP & MLA) had come straight to the venue from the airport. He said there …

Read more…

John McCallister reveals links between LAD and NI21

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…

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 …

Read more…

Exclusive: NI21 Carecall letter and the investigations

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…

McCallister: “This has been the most toxic and poisonous experience of my entire life.”

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…

NI21: McCrea investigation stalls

The soap opera which is NI21 continues. Last night the BBC reported confusion over the investigation by Carecall into the allegations against Basil McCrea. There was also the suggestion that the party had decided no further action was required. Today the Belfast Telegraph have reported that the investigation has been stopped part way through. This appears to be because Carecall require permission from the party chairperson Jane Howson for it to continue. Ms. Howson has withheld this permission. John McCallister …

Read more…

John McCallister: For the sake of NI21 and, indeed, for his own sake, [Basil] must now step aside for the duration of the investigation

John McCallister issued a statement tonight calling on Basil McCrea to step aside as NI21 leader while allegations are investigated. While many NI21 candidates seem keen to keep going in politics, what shape the party will be in this time next week is hard to predict, never mind next year. Tina McKenzie told the BBC that she was “seriously burned from politics and very hurt and shocked and devastated”. She’s been eliminated from the Balmoral count, polling only 256 first preference …

Read more…

Cartoon – Rory McIlroy redesignates

Drawing on the hoof. Excuse the scratchiness. Should read: “I’ve decided to redesignate myself as “SINGLE”. Union with Caroline woz too 20th century.” Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ www.brianjohnspencer.com/

“What has changed is that it is a clear message to the people of Northern Ireland that NI21 is a cross-community party…”

According to a BBC report, the NI21 party executive has announced a policy change on the eve of the party’s first foray into an actual election.  From the BBC report NI21 has announced it will change its designation at the Northern Ireland Assembly from unionist to ‘other’. The party’s executive took the decision ahead of Thursday’s European and local government elections. NI21 was set up by MLAs Basil McCrea and John McCallister, after they quit the Ulster Unionist Party in …

Read more…

NI21 launch a diverse squad of 47 council candidates – will any get elected?

NI21 launched their council candidates in The MAC this morning. Just before 10am, a lost-looking Mark H Durkan walked through the MAC’s downstairs foyer. He hadn’t come to throw his lot behind Tina McKenzie, but was instead early for his appointment with Alex Attwood at the Electoral Office around the corner! Chatting to NI21 candidates, it was clear that this was their first foray into politics. Most I spoke to were driven by a frustration and a desire for political …

Read more…

NI21 issue open call for council candidates: fresh politics or desperate measures?

Relatively few people seem to wake up in the morning and decide to be a politician. Existing party activists recognise the gifts and passion in people they see and invite them to join, and invite them to run. Time and after time at the Alliance conference, and again at the Green Party conference, speakers recounted who had approached them and got them involved. The power of the personal invitation. Stand for council and be a part of building a better …

Read more…

Uno Duce, Una Voce-NI21 and the Basil Show

When I attended the NI21 launch on that hot night in June 2013, I was impressed with the calibre of the people in the room and the buzz of the MAC. For a moment I thought, jeepers I could be witnessing the birth of a new political force here. The only thing I thought that could possibly go wrong for the party would be is if it became the Basil McCrea show and he dominated every aspect of the party’s …

Read more…

Nesbitt recommends politics over further street protests; McCallister disses talk of “culture wars” in speech to Ulster GAA

In other non-SDLP news, the Belfast Telegraph report that Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has told party colleagues via an internal bulletin that the tactic of flag protests should cease. The tactics used to protest over the flag have alienated many who instinctively supported the cause … He warned against disrupting Belfast city centre and its traders for a second Christmas. I hear talk of rallies, parades and protests. As ever, I understand and support the right for lawful and …

Read more…

John McCallister says Sinn Fein already have a “new Ireland” while Gerry Adams calls for “an entirely new dispensation”

By coincidence, while John McCallister didn’t have the opportunity to speak at the UUP conference today, he did get an invite to address Sinn Fein’s Towards a New Ireland – A new phase of the peace process conference in London this afternoon. He started a little apologetically … If my comments at any time seem unduly harsh or perhaps unfair, be assured that such is not my intention. I am here in good faith to promote political dialogue and debate …

Read more…

NI21 launches – looking for fresh voices rather than defectors

Basil and John tonight crawled out of their Team Jasil chrysalis to reveal the NI21 butterfly. Question is, will it take off? Launched in the Metropolitan Arts Centre, a cosmopolitan wine-drinking audience, and if they’d handed out much needed icecream cones to cool down the attendees, NI21 might have been Neapolitan too. A few hundred supporters crammed into two rooms in the Belfast MAC and another two hundred watched online as John McCallister, party chair Tina McKenzie, and leader Basil …

Read more…