10th August 2016

I’ve had quite a media-ish week, mostly, but not entirely, arising from Theresa May’s bright idea that George Osborne’s ‘shale wealth fund‘ might act as more of an incentive if it were paid to individual householders instead of to local councils.  Obviously, the existence of the proposed fund at all is far from certain, depending as it does on fracking making a profit in the UK, those profits actually being taxed, and there being enough tax revenue thereby for ten per cent of it to mean something.  10% of zero is, of course, zero.  But public support for fracking continues to plummet, and the dangling possibility of a few quid (especially if the equally affected neighbours down the road won’t get it) seems to be what Ms May thinks One Nationhood is all about.

And of course it gave an opportunity to DUP MP (and former NI Environment Minister) Sammy Wilson to wheel out his well-worn anti-Green artillery.  It’s been a couple of weeks since he was last in the headlines, accusing women MPs of ‘voyeurism’ for seeking to breastfeed their babies while at work in the Commons chamber.  That didn’t end too well, with even his party distancing itself, so he was probably relieved to return to the old Green-baiting.  There’s something comforting about a long-established hobby.

Anyway, I was given the job of responding to him, in the original Belfast Telegraph article (see link above), on the Green Party website and on Radio Ulster’s Talkback (begins 45mins in) and Q Radio.  There was also an article about the whole business in today’s Fermanagh Herald (more headline idiosyncrasies – I assume the inverted commas were supposed to be around both the first words, otherwise it appears that Tom and I are definitely warriors but dubiously eco) …

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… and one about the success of the library campaign, too.

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19th April 2016

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I’m too tired to write much, after another very busy day, but the Fermanagh Herald has just tweeted this photo of me, so I think there might be something in the paper tomorrow.  Ronan also called round today to take some pictures of me on my bike, in preparation for next week’s cycle ride.  Panniers.  Don’t let me forget panniers.

16th March 2016

I’ve been too busy for the past couple of days to do any blog updating, what with all sorts of meetings, canvassing, chess club, leaflet design and today our final Lenten lunch, for which I was organising the lunch bit as well as my general secretary stuff.  Oh, and Abby and Jess, of course.  Mind you, I can’t really complain when our early morning walk has backdrops like this (at Trory, looking across at Devenish Island).

0316h 0316g 0316f 0316d 0316c Meanwhile here’s a letter of mine published in today’s Fermanagh Herald.

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21st October 2015

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From the Fermanagh Herald today, as part of its coverage of the announcement about Teleperformance and its expansion of the Enniskillen call centre.  My comments begin in the third column (and no, that’s not me in the picture).  Whoever did the headlines slightly misread what I’d said – the £100,000 packages are for the special advisers, not the MLAs – but the principle is the same.

To save your eyesight, I’ll quote the relevant part here:

“Fermanagh Green Party Assembly candidate Tanya Jones also expressed concerns.  Cautiously welcoming the jobs news, Ms Jones said the average salary ‘will do little to help Fermanagh’s low-pay problem.

‘While these wages may be sufficient for single people starting out in life, they represent less than the living wage, and will not be enough to support a family,’ she continued. ‘If we want young couples to stay in Fermanagh and to bring up their children here, we need to ensure that they can earn enough to make ends meet.

‘In a week during which MLAs from the DUP and Sinn Fein voted against a salary cap for their own special advisors, whose packages are estimates to cost us around £100,000 each, I find it disappointing that they think ordinary people here are worth so little.

‘Call centres are an important part of our economy and daily life, but they are not the height of Fermanagh’s hopes and aspirations. There have been concerns about working conditions in call centres, and I would like to see assurances and evidence that best practice will be followed here in Enniskillen.

Ms Jones called for greater investment in small and medium sized businesses, and in the renewable energy sector.  She concluded: ‘We don’t need to be part of a race to the bottom – with fair treatment, we have all we need to reach the top.’”

It’s interesting to note that, in three pages of coverage, no representative from any other political party has made any reference to the low wages paid for these jobs, or asked any questions about the public subsidies, the timescale when the jobs are supposed to appear (the headline is ‘over three years’) or the conditions under which employees will work.  It’s obvious from the responses to the Herald‘s online survey, that local people are concerned about these issues, and sad that elected politicians, at all levels, do not have the courage to raise them.

6th May (2)

Ryan Smith of the Fermanagh Herald phoned me up last week and gave me two minutes to say why I thought people should vote for me.  Here is the result.

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And if you’d like something a little longer, the Impartial Reporter Kitchen Confidential profile is now online here.

29th April

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Off the election pages, and onto the real news ones today!  The four of us in the photo are all members of the Fermanagh & South Tyrone Green Party.  Here’s the full article, from the Fermanagh Herald.

 

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Today was the deadline for informing the electoral office of our counting agents; that is the people who are authorised to come along to the count.  It seems to have taken all day, and was rather stressful, so my account of Monday’s fracking hustings will have to wait a little longer, I’m afraid.

Meanwhile I’ve been collecting prizes for our fundraising pub quiz on Friday – do come along if you’re in the neighbourhood!

22nd April

Again, this blog is proving fertile ground for the local papers.  This is from today’s Fermanagh Herald:

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I suppose the rather negative headline was inevitable, though the caption does leave open the possibility of divine intervention…. I’d rather be honest, anyway.  Insisting that I was confident of victory, against all the statistics, would merely be delusional, and detract from what I can promise: that a strong Green vote will send a striking message, and lay the groundwork for a better and more hopeful future.

It’s interesting that Ryan didn’t quote from the earlier part of the post, in which I speculate about why both the Elliott and Gildernew campaigns have been characterised by such inflammatory statements.  Why do they say things that are far more likely to mobilise the votes against them than those in their favour? I concluded that:

“… it’s not about Westminster.  This campaign, in FST in particular, is about building up a stockpile of resentment and mistrust.  That is the fuel that the big parties need for the elections they really care about, those for Stormont.  The power-sharing between Sinn Fein and the DUP depends upon the illusion that they are enemies, that each must be made as powerful as possible to protect their people from the other.  If the electorate realised how closely their interests really coincide, how much they work hand in glove to keep power for themselves, to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich, and to destroy our unique and fragile environment, the game would be up.  The arsenal of anger needs constantly to be replenished.”

No, I don’t suppose that paragraph is likely to appear anywhere in print.

Meanwhile the Fermanagh Herald also covered the Youth Action NI hustings, and this week’s Tyrone Herald has a straightforward run-through of the candidates.

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19th April

 

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Not me, you’ll be unamazed to hear.  I like my photo, though.  I assume it’s one that the Impartial‘s award-winning John McVitty took back in October when I was interviewed by Rodney.  Of the six people who were interviewed, one said about me that she ‘knew her face but I can’t think of her name’ and another said courteously “As for this lady, is that the Green Party?’  It certainly is. Even Michelle and Tom didn’t get a full house, anyway, as one of the interviewees had just moved here from England, and only knew Hannah Su (whose leaflet was delivered a couple of weeks ago).

A piece later in the Impartial quoted extensively from this blog, the post in which I wrote about the North Fermanagh Valley Group.

 

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And this was accompanied by an uncropped version of the photo which appeared in the Fermanagh Herald last week.  Not even a single mention of Arlene in the caption this time, though.

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Talking of which, my caption competition has been won by Paul Anderson, who suggested “Really? You won against the Sicilian Defence with the Smith-Morra Gambit?” That would explain Arlene’s sceptical expression (and possibly also Tom’s bemused one). Thanks, Paul – you will be suitably rewarded (probably by trouncing me again the next time we play).

 

15th April

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Today’s Fermanagh Herald included this picture, from our visit to the North Fermanagh Valley Group last week. Note the accidental Arlene-duplication in the caption.  At least Tom Elliott had his battlebus in the background, plastered with an enormous picture of his face, so he’s unlikely to be entirely forgotten.  Any more entertaining captions welcomed, so long as they’re courteous and tasteful.  I could probably manage a prize for the best.