North Down Alliance Insight

In a new departure I now intend to provide a monthly insight into The Alliance Party in North Down.

October 2008: North Down Alliance reflect on successful Party Conference

A few weeks after The Alliance Party held it’s Annual Conference in Bangor the party’s North Down Association Executive Committee met on Monday 13 October 2008 with all in agreement that the Conference had been a resounding success.

Many members of the Committee expressed their delight that former Party Leader and MEP John Cushnahan had attended and delivered such an interesting speech.

It was generally felt that the mood had been extremely positive and that the Leader David Ford MLA had delivered a strong and clear speech especially when he remarked “We will play a constructive part in any way we can. But we will not be used to apply a sticking plaster over a serious fault line within the Executive. There must be fundamental reforms. I care too deeply about the future of this society to prop up a failing sectarian and sectional Executive.”

During the meeting the Executive Committee also made preparations for a number of future fundraising events including the opportunity to hear a speech in late November 2008.

Members were delighted to learn from Association Chairperson Neil Dickey that party membership had increased with Committee Treasurer reporting that finances are in an extremely healthy state.

The meeting received a briefing from local Alliance MLA Dr Stephen Farry who informed those present that the party was continuing to work in a constructive manner to break the ongoing deadlock at Stormont.

Concerns were expressed at the possible loss of 700 nurses which were seen as a direct consequence of Peter Robinson’s budget.

Members also received an update from Alliance Alderman Marsden Fitzsimmons who briefed the meeting on successful efforts by North Down Borough Council to promote Christian Heritage within the Borough and ongoing work by the Council to foster good relations amongst people of different race, religion and political opinion.

A brief discussion took place with regards to the proposed Boundary Changes to enable merger between North Down and Ards Borough Councils with agreement that the party should recommend that a number of proposed boundaries be amended.

The recently arrived circus in Bangor prompted discussion on the use of animals in circuses and the meeting concluded with agreement that the Association was opposed such abuse of wild animals.

22 October 2008

Another fine PPS mess

Today’s news has been dominated by the story that the case against the only person charged in relation to the Northern Bank Robbery has collapsed after the prosecution decided not to provide any further evidence.

This revelation provides yet more evidence that the Public Prosecution Service isn’t fit for purpose.

Shambolic events such as the trial which collapsed today only serve to further erode public confidence in the criminal justice system whilst those who perpetrated the robbery and subjected the McMullan family to disgraceful personal trauma continue to walk the streets freely.

As has been proven in recent months and years, the PPS seem to be incapable of carrying out their main duty to develop coherent cases and then professionally conduct prosecutions.

Whilst it’s important that the PPS is able to independently make decisions whether to prosecute without political interference it’s about time they were subjected to a greater degree of scrutiny.

They could start by adding accountability and transparency to their list of organisational values which currently omit such important values.

Representatives from the PPS could also start by appearing on the media and publicly answering the questions that many people now want answered.

Thursday 9 October 2008

'Go on then, jump'

Whilst listening to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday morning I heard the story of Shaun Dykes who was goaded by onlookers to jump off a multi story car park in Derby. You can listen to The Today Programme’s article about Shaun by clicking here and read about the story by clicking here.

Since listening to the story on Saturday I have been trying to work out how such an incident occurred.

Whilst it is clear that the police should have moved the onlookers away the fact that people goaded a man to take his life shines a light on the serious problems that now exist within society.

During the years of economic success I feel we have developed a society were people and politicians are “seriously relaxed about people becoming filthy rich” to the extent that many people have become concerned with themselves alone without any regard for others.

The general economic slowdown now being experienced across the world will hopefully encourage a move away from greed and an individualistic society towards one which is about inclusive communities and supporting each other, including those facing difficulties in their life such as Shaun.

Monday 6 October 2008