Saturday, 21 March 2015


The news of the collapse of the proposal for a world class police and fire service training college at Desertcreat comes as no surprise to those of us who questioned the need and financial sustainability of the project in the first place.
While local politicians, rightly, sought the investment, any investment in their area those at a higher level were distracted by all that glittered and failed to realise the proposal was not gold.
Strategic planning must be about more than considering which papers carry the photo of the cutting of the first sod. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


The comments below were first made on a previous blog I had in 2012 but are, I think just as relevant.Instead of just reforming the institutions, reducing the number of departments, reducing the number of MLA’s Councillors and MP’s why don’t we take a further step and change the way we think about politics and politicians.For many people inside and outside the system politics is about power, yet such a term sums up the inadequacies within the current system. Power can be used for good or bad, in fact it doesn’t have to be used all it can just be held onto to prevent others from getting access to it.Do power politics meet the needs of society, not if that power isn’t used to generate the changes needed to improve society.If we are to change society we must start by changing the concept of politics from being about taking power to one of taking responsibility.What difference would we see if those who were elected were held personally responsible for every child growing up in poverty, for every delayed operation, for every jobless individual.Personal responsibility brings with it the necessary democratic accountability, it moves electoral manifesto’s beyond the aspirational to the practical and deliverable and becomes the driving force behind a changed society.How many of those who hold power today would take responsibility tomorrow.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Change the world

I had a thought the other day about what I wanted to achieve in politics, be a councillor or did I want to be an MLA, was being a MP the ultimate achievement. After thinking about the options I came to the conclusion it was none of these. I want to change the world.

That's not the mad ranting of a megalomaniac it may seem, I'm no Bill Gates, I haven't found a cure for something nasty but I do want to change the world. Maybe not the whole world but each day I try to change someone's world for the better. I might help someone with a welfare appeal, get a house, a planning issue, an issue with a school and many more. For each person I help I change their world, sometimes substantially.

So why politics? Well, instead of changing the world one person one day at a time I want to make bigger decisions for more people all at once. Instead of one appeal, make the assessment process fairer so that more people get what they are entitled too without the trauma of an appeal. Instead of one house deliver changes to increase social housing provision so everyone who needs a home has access to one. Instead of one planning issue make the system easier for people to access and understand, meet the needs of the people not the system. Instead of helping one child with an education issue change the system to ensure all children can read and write, they all should leave school with skills for life and work.

I want to change the world, political titles are not achievements, they are opportunities to do more, that's why I'm in politics. 

Over the next few weeks across the UK candidates will knock doors seeking support, if they tell you it's to allow them to be MP, think carefully, if they tell you they want to change your world (and have a sensible notion how to do it) they are worth a vote.
Most important of all when it comes to the 7th May carpe diem, seize the day, change your world, VOTE.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Lord Molyneaux

Today we learned of the passing of Lord Molyneaux, Jim as he was widely known. I first met Jim through his nephew Ian, a friend from school. Once we were old enough to drive a group of us would regularly head out the road to Crumlin to Ian's home farm. Nestled behind high hedges was Jims home and at that time stalking the farm buildings were the police guards ever present. Frequently as we tucked in to Ian's mums home baking Jim would drop in to say hello. His quiet demeanour and ways in keeping with the dignity with which he served the constituency. I learned then that politics was not about shouting, it was and remains about talking, with the quiet confidence of being right. I last spoke to Jim a few years ago at the local agricultural show as he sat at the UUP stand enjoying the weather and the craic. Already showing the signs of the illness that would dull his sharp mind he still focussed intently when the conversation turned to Westminster and politics. As an Ulster Unionist I know just how much his tenure as Leader represented his strength of character. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A healthy agenda

Delighted to say that the creation of a healthy community has been recognised as a key objective in the corporate plan for Mid and East Antrim Council after the consultation on the draft flagged up that it was not given a high enough priority.

The changing tide

Having raised the issue of the widespread, in my view inappropriate at times, use of agency staff some months ago it was heartening to see the groundswell of support for the regularisation of employment practice in the new council at last nights meeting. Such a transformation will take some time to deliver as re-organisation beds in but it is clear that council officers know the mind of the elected reps and will produce a strategic workforce plan that respects all our employees.