Friday, 19 June 2009

Some positive news in Northern Ireland?

Since the news and blogosphere these days have more than catered for those wanting to wallow in the negative side of news and current affairs I thought I would put forward a bit of a change. After all, why should the minority of crazies lead our mindsets down the low road? Maybe it's time for some red sky at night, bloggers delight!

Ok, for the record, some people are nuts - we knew it before and it’s being proved every day. In the past months we’ve had reports of probably the worst abuse of human nature of recent times. A minority of those in positions of trust within the Church finally proven to have abused their power in a horrific manner. Not a new concept but we’ve also many a politicians thinking they are doing the world right by being obsessed with quick fixes and looking out for themselves and their short term futures both in their ideology and in their material gain. Other days it’s racists of all creeds and colours picking on a ‘group’ of people living nearby because someone convinced them it was a good idea and would somehow help their own problems. Like those targeting those of Romanian decent in South Belfast.

Also, no doubt, any a personal tragedy will be hyped to sell papers and as per usual the actions of the few will be fed back to the masses as being a worry trend of the many. On top of that take for instance a physiologically disturbed individual going on a gun spree somewhere. Someone else who might just be as vulnerable see’s the hype and the sensationalism of the media and before you know it, one in a billion is going to think in a twisted way that being a copycat is a good idea as they want that attention as well. Where does it end?

Now I’m not saying all bad news is going to lead to its own self fulfilling prophecy that will cause more of the same sort of behaviour. Obviously the majority of people on the planet can get by hearing the worst and not be compelled to do the same. However from my point of view, and I realise it’s almost as crazy to try and generalise (but I have to, my posts are long enough as it is!) it’s not helpful for anyone’s wellbeing. Sometimes the facts are enough when it comes to knowing the problems we all face.

Sorry for the reminder of such things... now on to the happy news that wasn’t on the front page of the news or on most people’s recent blog entries today and in past weeks...

Coming up soon is the Belfast City Carnival, I attended it last year and in the sun it was a fun couple of hours, well worth attending in Belfast on the 27th June from 1.30-3pm if you can. It marks the welcome of Belfast’s new Lord Mayor, Naomi Long and the theme of this year’s parade is Space and Astronomy. Should it be sunny, it should be a great show.

4 Irish League players, Colin Coates and Martin Donnelly from Crusaders F.C, Stephen Carson of Coleraine and until recently Linfield Goalkeeper Alan Mannus, make the (albeit depleted Northern Irish squad) and do local football proud keeping a respectable 3-0 score line against an Italy squad featuring 2 players with world cup winners medals and many more with multi million £ price tags. Here is a match report of the Friendly; Italy 3-0 Northern Ireland 0

New murals in Belfast representing the non-paramilitary past of the area, the local community and a brighter future.

This Sunday (21st June) for many in N.I a big event, the GAA Senior Football Championship which sees Derry take on Tyrone.

A bit trivial but warming story about a cat in Scotland who survived over a month accidentally trapped in an industrial container. Another reason why cats rock and dogs suck. Ok inquisitive enough to end up locked in a container for a month but robust and resilient and self sufficient enough to live through it. Maybe a sign that in the long distant future the odds of a Red Dwarf type Cat mightn’t be that far out of the realms of reality.

Maybe for the time being this link will still lead the way in putting a smile on our faces... Kitteh Heavenz with Lolcats 4 Teh Nom @

A little piece of history was unearthed by a 17 year old digging a hole. A medieval silver ring got pulled out of the ground that was to be replaced by a fence post. Maybe digging yourself a hole isn’t such a bad thing! Farmers-son-unearths-Medieval-treasure

As well as the numerous other events and good news stories that you’ll only hear down the pub or in the locally distributed free newspaper. For instance the last time any of the great work done by local football clubs in regards to community relations never seems to make the major press. The other good news, news of a more personal nature, is that Norn girl and I have booked our honeymoon. We’re well chuffed to be heading to Mauritius later in the year, and lucky enough to be in a position to do so! – A position much helped by some cost effective shopping around and our relatives help. After the inevitable stresses and strains of arranging the big day, it’ll be a once in a lifetime trip that we can’t wait to take to herald the beginning of our marriage.

I know it’s hard times for a lot of people and its easy to sit behind a keyboard and try to put the world to rights but it really isn't all doom and gloom. The current problems will pass, new ones will come and I don’t know about everyone else but I reckon it’s about time to concentrate on the bright side as best we can and make the most of this crazy little existance.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Film, Film, Pow!

Whether it was the film crews on the streets, going to the cinema or noticing how our very own Northern Irish transformer is being built, last week threw a bit a film theme my way.

It’s an odd one really; I spent most of the week very tired and heading to work on auto pilot. Admittedly it was largely due to the week before and the residue from a bad cold and not sleeping properly. I probably didn’t help myself by not going to sleep as early as I probably should have given the circumstances. In my defence though, when I get home and just want to have a bit of a night, the couple of hours after getting home, cooking and doing anything that needs done, just don’t cut it. I’m slower than the average bear and like Yogi that includes my leisure time, once I get started watching a TV show or surfing the net that’s me there for a couple of hours at least. So usually bed time ends up going on midnight, if not later – student habits of old die hard it seems! However after being a bit run down, this lifestyle unfortunately resulted in me becoming a part time narcoleptic upon finally returning home from work on Friday.

So tied and a bit dazed it was odd to be heading to work one morning and to see a mass of large powerful lights surrounding a pub called the Garrick bar on Chichester Street. The place looked like a crime scene from the outside but the trucks and vans parked along the street gave away that they were defiantly home to a film crew and their gear.

Later the same day, heading home this time, I ended up walking down the back of the City Hall. Oddly I stumbled across a Big Red London bus, a red phone box that hadn’t been there the day before and a random tent with anti war slogans on it. Not far from these items was a group of about 30 people and some sort of makeshift set up for outdoor catering. Next to all this a sign saying “Caution Filming in Progress”.

I’m really not sure what they were filming for, but they weren’t isolated events that day as a colleague at work also told me they had seen a film crew at another location in town. It seemed from the London theme that they using the back of the city hall to re-create a London street scene. The Labour advertisement on the Bus combined with the ‘protest tent’ seemed to indicate something political but whether it be a drama or a party political broadcast or even a comedy, that’s for them to know and us to find out! I can’t find anything about the filming elsewhere but maybe before long all will become clear with an appearance of this scene on TV... do let me know if you see it!

To top it off, as I headed down the street a little further, I look down to see a bright tag kicking around on the floor and what do I find just laying there but yet another cinematic link...

Could it be Ben Stiller was in town or as the lable hints, in a wearhouse near by? It's a mystery!

After all the showbiz and in an attempt to relax we decided to have a bit of a date night. Norn Girl and I really do enjoy our random, though usually meal then cinema based, date nights - when we can afford it or aren’t too tired or lazy to head out of the house. We decided that day to head to see a movie that was new out as most others that are out we’ve either seen already or one of us didn't really want to see. We both knew very little about the movie and I hadn’t even seen a trailer for it. I’m starting to find that this is the best way to see movies as you aren’t so disappointed having already seen what are usually all the best bits in the trailer already.

The movie we picked to see was ‘The Hangover’ and I have to say I thought it was really rather good! In the magical world of cinema I don’t mind too much what I’m watching but I do prefer movies that can take me somewhere new and that keep me glued to the screen. For a comedy based around a stag do, it broke the preconceptions I would have had having now seen the trailer. Loads of laughs and a plot that keeps us intrigued by the characters being as unaware as we are as to what happened. An intriguing mystery that puts my earlier one to shame is laid out in front of us, leading from one comedy moment to the next. To top it off it’s not only funny but uses the screen well unlike some comedies (I’m thinking of several romantic comedies I’ve had to watch in recent times) that might as well have been made for TV. Sure it’s a little rude and maybe not one to watch with the kids but if you want comedy that has the potential to make you lol-a-lot and that even managed to include end credits worked in to be a meaningful part of the plot, then it’s a movie worth a watch.

Its reinvigorated a taste for the cinema (if it ever went away) so all being well we’ll be seeing a few more movies in the near future. One movie we aren’t likely to head to is the new transformers one. Although I do love Sci-Fi and I even loved to play with the plastic toys when I was younger, those movies based on cartoons and comic books really never seem to be that good. Having now sat through the trailer a couple of times, it just looks boring and unlikely to be much more than a comic book guys drool fest with special effects as the plot. I probably shouldn’t be too quick to judge but I’m tempted to see something on a whim from now on than something advertised to death before hand.

The biggest piece of advertising I’ve seen so far is the transformer that’s taken up residence in the disguise of the new Obel building. It’s a handy disguise but we can see through it, it seems friendly enough so it’s probably an Autobot and we should be safe but sure we’ll have to see how pretty it is before we know whether we should try convincing it to head back to Cybertron.

Update 06/09/2009

The filming that was going on around Belfast back in June this year has been revealed in the October 09, City Matters (Belfast City Council Residents magazine) to be, "an upcoming Channel 4 drama 'Mo', in which she (Julie Walters) plays the role of the late Mo Mowlam, former Northern Ireland Secetary of State". Another mystery solved! According to the article it'll be on TV sometime next year :)

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Weekend of the weakened wandering week.

I don't know about everyone else but some weeks I just want to curl up and sleep and save up my energy for a different week. For me, this was one week I could have done a great tortoise impression. Does sod's/Murphy’s law exist? Or when the summer made it to Belfast for what is a rare occasion, was it just a pure mix of random chance that saw Norn Girl and I unable to frolic and play out in the sun?

It begun at the end of Last weekend when the blue sky appeared out of nowhere and the temperature soared. However this was also when Norn Girl fractured a bone in her foot. My daring fiancée Norn Girl would gladly admit to being a slight bit accident prone, though in her defence she's usually a little more than unlucky. At her dad’s house she was walking down the stairs when she missed a step and landed one further down than expected, the result, the top of her toes occupying the space ordinarily reserved for the ball of your foot. At first, when she appeared back outside in the sun we didn't realise it was broken but being sensible she made it to the hospital during the week and an x-ray confirmed she'd fractured it. Chance 1 - 0 Us

The week actually began ok, the sun was still shining and we had plans to go swimming and start going back to the Gym but the foot situation combined with me gettinggiven a training session to attend at the last minute on Monday scuppered that idea. Chance 2-0 Us

Tuesday was upon us and Norn Girl got her broken bone news. Although busy the weather was still great and optimism high. Sat on a chair in the kitchenNorn Girl was a star and made a dish she'd wanted to try to make for us - Balsamic Vinegar Chicken, and it was nom to the highest degree and somethingwe'll defiantly be keeping in mind to have again in the near future. Combined with watching the 7th Series of Scrubs that had arrived in the post the week, like the weather, seemed as though it might have turned. 2-1 and back in the game.

Like a usual romantic comedy, half way through the week and the good turns to bad as I wake up with a head cold. Being a numpty I head into work anyway and struggle through the day. With Norn Girl out of action and me being the walking dead with my mild case of man flu, we made a sorry sight when we gave into temptation and inability and ordered a takeaway. The delivery driver went to the wrong address but was quick to call and find us and we soon laid eyes on our dinner. We had ordered from the Ginger Tree Japanese restaurant. It was delicious and well worth the money, pretty much thesort of takeaway I've been hoping to find since, well ever! I got what is listed in the menu as Chicken Yakiniku and it was restaurant quality in a takeout container. Very impressed!

Even with my nose trying to audition for a new horror movie going by the title of 'Snot Sore' the day was a 1-1 draw, taking the score to 3-2.

Thursday we woke early to make it to the polling station. The sun was still there, warm and bright and teased us out into the light. My head however wasn't there and I felt like I'd just had someone poke a banana in my ear like poor Charlie the Unicorn. Not only that but someone had wedged a viscous acid down the back of my throat. Thankfully, unlike Charlie, my kidneys were still there but my insides were hurting a little too from all the sneezing and coughing. Voting went smoothly; we were only 2 of a few there. My 1 and 2 were pencilled into the paper and probably the stand of the booth too with the amount of pressure I put on the pencil to make the marks easily readable. After dropping the paper into the box I went to the bus stop with Norn Girl before doing the right thing by my health for once and headed back to the house. After calling work, I flumped back into bed. The sun and the world was whirling by outside but on this my first day off in quite a while (I don't get bank holidays) I was spending it laid up and leaking fluids. To rub salt into the wound or in this case more snot into my face, just when I shut my eyes and felt like I could get a quick nap in, a Diane Dodds canvassing van kept driving around the block filling the air with muffled sounds of desperation from its megaphone.

The day did end ok. I managed to make it out of bed by 5 thanks to a mix of tablets and headed to the post office in town. I was going to pick up parcels that had been unable to be delivered earlier in the week, one of which being semi wedding related... a new digital camera - not the newest of compact cameras but a rather expensive for my standards; Canon PowerShot SX110 IS. Thank you again to the lovely peoples who gave me money and vouchers for my Birthday.

Afterwards, still wrapped in my winter coat and probably the only one wearing a coat for miles, I made it to my mum-in-law to be's house for a wee gathering to talk aboutwedding related to-do's. Sadly even the Big Brother launch and another dose of the Japanese takeaway couldn't distract me from my now aching sides and inflamed internal head tubing. For me at least that made the score 4-2.

Friday, well I'm feeling a bit better though still full of gunk, Norn Girl is happy as we're planning to try and have a BBQ and as normal we're looking forward to the weekend.So far so good and I've made it through a day at work. I even got chance to try out the new camera and wow is it good! Probably helps that my standards aren't too high but what the hey!

Chance 4-3 Us.

So in retrospect maybe it wasn't such a bad week and sods law didn't completely scupper us. We still lost to chance on points but maybe a half full approach can tip the balance. So here's hoping for the sun to keep shining a little while longer and for a good weekend! Sure, bad things might mess up our plans and maim us but at least sods law keeps things unpredictable. I'll sneeze to that!

P.S since I typed this yesterday the blue sky has disappeared to be replaced by some type of stratus cloud and with it, the BBQ is rained off. Oh well! Sure, we’ll still try and enjoy the weekend anyway. A morning in bed not having to be out in the rain has already been the best time I’ve had all week!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Northern Ireland European Parliament Elections 2009

This Thursday 4th June, will see voters in Northern Ireland take to their local polling stations to vote on who they would like to see represent them in the European Parliament. With a nice pay check and a hefty set of expenses at their disposal, 3 of the 7 candidates will be handed the confirmation to catch what probably isn’t a budget airline flight to mainland Europe. So, is it likely to be the usual ‘give my head peace’ politics launching the folks from the ‘show me the money hill’ on their way to Strasbourg and Brussels?

At a time when I should be more concerned about where I’m going to be trying to get hold of my suit for the wedding, getting hold of everyone to sort out travel arrangements and hotel stays and other important wedding things - I find myself dwelling on the ins and outs of this week’s election.

If the results go as per the history books, then thankfully from my point of view, the 3 representatives will be diluted... sorry... joining 733 others in representing 492 million people across Europe in the European Parliament. Their mission should they not opt to refuse it - to join forces with other major and minor political groups of the parliament and to use their combined skills to analyze, amend and draft EU legislation and directives - preferably in a way that will not only benefit the whole of Europe but also Northern Ireland.

So leading into the election and with propaganda hung from every lamppost and posted through every door, here are the candidates and my take from what little of their campaigning I’ve had chance to look at and their appearance on Sundays Politics show (a great watch for anyone who wants to see why we’ve a problem when it comes to politics in Northern Ireland):

First up are the 3 current MEP’s:

Bairbre de Brún - Sinn Féin

Campaign slogan: ‘Putting Ireland First’

Summary of campaign literature received:

The slogan pretty much sums up all that is attempted to be put across. The rest of the flier fails on so many levels. As with an awful lot of the candidates and as we sadly come to expect with party politics in Northern Ireland the reality is that the nationalist/unionist divisions in society dictate pretty much all political life and this election is no different. Apart from mentioning ‘developing a new working relationship with the EU’, no summary of her actual performance in the role has been included. In fact the party name is the only reference to whose opinions are being expressed within the text. A very basic campaign with a message aimed directly to a divisional representation of the population of Northern Ireland as a whole. A reminder more than a message, aimed towards maintaining a percentage of the vote that will see re-election.

Performance on the politics show from Queens University:

Calm and collected, although she didn’t have to say much as her main rivals to top the poll were arguing between themselves. Still unsure if she would best represent me or anyone I know (from either side of the political fence in N.I) in Europe.

Conclusion: Hard to conclude anything as I don’t have a clue how she has done nor do I know what she will focus on in European issues other than Irish Unity and the usual reference to jobs, education etc, though beyond a mention I don’t know her stance.

Jim Allister - Traditional Unionist Voice

Campaign slogan: “The one they want out!”

Summary of campaign literature received:

This slogan as you might expect sets the scene for material that I wouldn’t be shocked to see too far out of place on a ‘need a loan, then call...” advert, when someone introduces themselves as being wanted out by a majority there is often usually a reason. The first page sums up the rest of his campaign which is “keeping unionism ahead” and “resisting Sinn Fein”. The only redeeming feature of the material is the fact they tried to put in a bit of information trying to prove his record as an MEP. Sadly a table with the amount of speeches, written and oral questions by the 3 MEP’s doesn’t mean very much other than he likes to question, speak up and argue.

Performance on the politics show from Queens University:

Going by his performance the quantity of queries raised as an MEP might not have been of much quality. He did speak up about the problem of Politian’s holding multiple full time roles such as being an MLA and an MP etc. However, apart from the odd point questioning the problems that are blatantly evident with politics at the moment he was very opinionated, loud and spoke over people. His views were entirely polarised to the unionist viewpoint and he showed he had little concern for anyone else’s opinion on anything.

Conclusion: No offence to the guy but I think I’m one of the ‘they’ mentioned in the campaign slogan of his fliers. Like UKIP or the BNP in England, he’s campaigning for a vote of a division of a divided society. The message is consistent but only in its negativity. I really do wonder what MEP’s from places like France and Germany etc think of him and how that reflects upon N.I.

Jim Nicholson - Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force

Campaign slogan: “It’s time for change”

Summary of campaign literature received:

A negative campaign is sprawled over the first page attacking the Labour Party and Gordon Brown, no change as far as the Tories go anyway! The second page has the scary sight of David Cameron. Sadly this is one of the most sensible (to regular politics) of campaigns and although being heavily swung by the tail of the Conservative party at least its giving a view point with policies to match that aren’t too tied up in the same old divisions. The funny thing is that he already is an MEP, so why the emphasis on change? I can’t see Jim Nicholson wanting to seem in two minds about his politics so I’m guessing this election is being used as a re-branding exercise by the conservatives in their attempt to find a foothold in Northern Ireland.

Performance on the politics show from Queens University:

A straight answer? Sure, by the time he’s published his expenses it seems he might have been briefed on Tory rhetoric and be able to push that instead of struggling to answer a simple question. At least he’s trying to live up to the conservative form book already. Saying that he wasn’t too bad compared to some of the other candidates in the rest of the debate.

Conclusion: Not great and policies that most certainly are not my cup of tea though at least they’ve expanded away from single issue politics. The plus points would be a new approach and a more conventional and mainstream message even if it’s debateable whether in this current political climate any trust in the candidate can be maintained.

Diane Dodds – Democratic Unionist

Campaign slogan: “Strong leadership in challenging times”

Summary of campaign literature received:

Again, another candidate playing on the divisions of society rather than on issues concerning EVERYONE in Northern Ireland. A whole leaflet dedicated to one issue, trying to win a vote through playing on a fear of a community. Emotive language and statements designed to keep the old wounds open and the votes rolling in. The sad thing is I’m sure there must be some members of the DUP who have policies and ideas that might help bring prosperity and cohesion to Northern Ireland through work in Europe but sadly the electorate won’t have a clue on the basis of this material. Also not once in the campaign material is Diane Dodds full name mentioned, she is referred to only as Dodds. An oversight? Or possibly aiming to win a few votes by confused voters who recognise the family name?

Performance on the politics show from Queens University:

Along with Jim Allister, Diane Dodds was loud and lost her cool far too easily, I still don’t know hardly a thing about what she would bring to the role in Europe except possibly the desire to argue. I wouldn’t want the job of Public Relations officer within the DUP that’s for sure. A huge focus on too small a minority of issues.

Conclusion: I don’t think I can add anything else.

Alban Maginness - Social Democratic and Labour

Campaign slogan: “When we win, You win”

Summary of campaign literature received:

A quite positive and well presented flier that has been put together by someone in the know about marketing. The material is sensible and sticks to many of the key issues on actually choosing a candidate for the role they are going to fulfil. Within what I’ve read, not once was Unionism, Nationalism or Republicanism mentioned. I know of the history of the party but without any prior background knowledge, from the material I received, I would not know the stance of the party towards anything other than their candidate and Europe. In my eyes it’s quite refreshing given some of the other candidates’ material. One flaw seems to be in the focus on being the only ‘major’ party to be Pro-European as the Alliance party also holds that standing and the generalisation of the message being portrayed.

Performance on the politics show from Queens University:

Well spoken and quite reserved, he came across well. Again as with any of the candidates the majority of the debate was focused on the DUP/TUV arguing so it was only a brief introduction if judging solely from this year’s election materials and press.

Conclusion: Not bad, if indeed Alban Maginness can back up his words and truly represent the whole of Northern Ireland, then for the persona being delivered by what I’ve seen he would make a good candidate.

Steve Agnew – Green Party

Campaign slogan: “for a green new deal”

Summary of campaign literature received:

The leaflet is very short, just 3 paragraphs of text and only mentions jobs, fuel poverty and Climate change. To give a bit of credit though, a direct contact address is prominent and so maybe it’s possible if anyone has the time to contact Steve and ask on his stance towards other issues. Still, its not great to decide whether to pick him as an MEP.

Performance on the politics show from Queens University:

He came across very well, I took a liking to him and he seems to have his head screwed on to what’s going on. Probably the most personable of the lot, again it was only a glimpse due to the domination of noise coming from further down the table.


Steve Agnew seems like someone who could do the job. Being a spokes person for the Northern Irish voice in Europe an MEP needs some charisma and likeability, some people are suited to this and some aren’t and I think he is. The only problem I have is that the Green party seem to portray too narrow a focus in their press. If though his and the Green party's other stances are realistic, then he would appear to be a good candidate. From this campaign though, I doubt the message is clear enough as to what a Green party vote (other than on Green Issues) is actually going to bring if successful. I don't feel environmental issues alone can encourage people to not vote along political lines that are still well embedded in the sand.

Ian James Parsley - Alliance

Campaign slogan: “Replace the politics of fear with the politics of hope”

Summary of campaign literature received:

The flier I received was a more conventional piece that is quite well presented. The text is well used and stays on topic referring to what I would see as an optimistic hope for the future with pledges and stances that I tend to personally agree with. A little fluffy around the edges maybe. Also there was little mention of a stance on the more rural issues northern Ireland faces, but other than that it seems fairly sound.

Performance on the politics show from Queens University:

He sounds like Ben from the current series of the apprentice! Thankfully he didn’t come across anything like him though. He focused his time keeping on topic and like Steve Agnew made for a pleasant change. Sticking to the questions asked and answering with straight answers, he did very well.

Conclusion: The Alliance party seems to share much of the Green party’s attitudes but with less of a narrow focus on purely the Environment. A positive campaign and one I suspect will not get as many votes as it deserves.

To add to this I just sat through each of the Candidates parties political broadcasts for this election. Here are some links:


To sum up what I see going into these European elections. There are 3 categories of campaigns/candidates;

a) Candidates who are just trying to ride their party line with the old faithful and self fulfilling prophecy of maintaining division to ensure you can fight for a side even when voting for MEP’s should be about selecting a candidate who will do their best for the whole of Northern Ireland and who are not solely focused on their own community at a local level.

Aka - Jim Allister, Bairbre de Brún and Diane Dodds

b) Candidates representing parties trying to steer away from the old formula without breaking too many ties to the sections of society for whom the division between Unionism and Nationalism are still likely to be key.

Aka - Alban Maginness and Jim Nicholson

c) Candidates representing themselves and their party in trying to address the issues we are all impacted by, no matter what side of the 'one policy' fence you might lean towards or which garden you fall into.

Aka - Ian Parsley and Steve Agnew

So the candidates have set out their stalls to us all and all that is left is to weigh up the options.

Personally I won’t be voting for party rhetoric or fear tactics so category a) candidates can wave my vote goodbye. This is the 21st century and my generation are very media aware. In my opinion, voting for a candidate who can’t speak for themselves as representatives of their party let alone as a representative of a country - and in a job where there is one seat per MEP - has no place heading to Europe to ensure a Northern Irish voice is heard. This also includes the new Conservative party in N.I who might as well be trying to convince us that when Jim eats a banana, an amazing transformation occurs. Jim is Bananama...ermm... David Cameron!

Category b) candidates I would hope have a chance if it means not having any of those from a) being elected. At least these parties are taking a stance that focuses mainly on issues that those of us who aren't dwelling on the past but would like a bright future for our children as well as their friends. Sadly I don’t support many of either of the candidates’ main selling points. Conservatism no thanks! And I’d prefer to see candidates fully proven and dedicated to representing the common views of the majority in Northern Ireland rather than possibly still their niche.

So that leaves category c) and from these two I think Steve Agnew maybe falls under the category b) for the niche. So by process of elimination and because his party political broadcast also appealed to me most, my first preference will be heading the way of Ian Parsley.

In the end, although it is important, our choice is not going to influence Europe too greatly compared to how it would be with any of the other candidates. For instance I believe one of the key issues, the Lisbon treaty see’s most candidates agreeing, mainly on trying to get a referendum for it, so the people can decide. So the most interesting thing to me will be to see how the votes go in light of the campaigns run and the stances held.

As Nigel Dodds came to say in Diane Dodd’s broadcast, “don’t waste your vote on fringe candidates, make it count”, well to me the fringe is that of the future and not, as inferred, between parties who you’d like to vote for but are scared to because you wish to keep another party’s candidate out.

Maybe I am being a little naive but I do hope for change and a positive one to a different focus on political voting here. I doubt it will happen at this election but it will be interesting to see if there is a swing towards common sense and common goals meaning something. Hopefully positive and inclusive campaigning will be the winner.


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