Monday, 22 November 2010

The end or the beginning?

As the result of the selection process for local government elections next year I have been de-selected as the UUP candidate for Antrim North West. Here is the press statement issued today.

“It has been an honour and a pleasure to serve the Ulster Unionist Party and the constituents of Antrim North West for the past 10 years. I entered politics with the knowledge that it would allow me to work to improve the society we live in and the quality of life that people enjoy. Holding elected office is a privilege not a right and provides only one mechanism by which we can strive to help others. While elected office is no longer an option for me in South Antrim I look forward to finding new ways to achieve the same goals.

I would like to thank all those who have supported me over the years and of course I shall continue to work in the best interests of the people of Antrim North West and the Borough as a whole until the end of my term in office.

I congratulate my successor Roderick Swann and wish him all the best in next years council elections.”

Monday, 1 November 2010

Will the UN turn towards wee Ulster again?

In 2003 during a visit to the US I was invited to the UN Headquarters to meet with one of their representatives in relation to my work in North Belfast. The UN representative specialised in addressing the issue of child soldiers and at that time the use of children by paramilitiaries in Northern Ireland was an area of major concern. The solution was relatively simple, all terrorists but loyalist paramilitaries in particular would have to cease the recruitment and use of children or find themselves before the war crimes tribunal in the Hague. The UN wanted to be sure that the right people got the message and the relevant contacts were made so that the UN could pass the message directly to those who were most likely to find themselves on a plane to the Netherlands.

Which brings us to 2010 and East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell's Commons motion on Child Soldiering.

EDM 856
That this House notes the ongoing international abuse scandal whereby child soldiers are used in the most horrific and brutal causes; commends the work being done by many charitable bodies, churches and others, including a recent campaign by students in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, to expose the continuing outrage of using thousands of young children as pawns in disputes which continue in many developing countries; and calls on the Government to exert pressure in every available international forum to ensure these practices are stopped as soon as possible.

We all know that Early Day Motions have limited usefulness in general, Gregory himself has been on occasions frivolous in their use, but on this occasion Gregory can take the issue a step further.

Given the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Assembly will he table a motion calling on the UN to review the use of children by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.