NI21 hopes novel approach to campaigning will win over voters

North’s newest party running in Europe and standing 47 candidates in local elections

If people don't vote for change nothing will change in Northern Ireland, said Tina McKenzie when launching NI21's European manifesto in Belfast.

Ms McKenzie, a businesswoman of Catholic background and originally from west Belfast, is chairwoman of NI21, a pro-union party founded last June by former Ulster Unionist Assembly members Basil McCrea and John McCallister.

Ms McKenzie is NI21’s European candidate, while Northern Ireland’s newest party is also standing 47 candidates in the local elections.

While in favour of maintaining Northern Ireland’s union with Britain, NI21 has been concentrating more on a “proud to be Northern Irish” slogan and being non-sectarian and pro-European. Several Catholics endorsed the party at its launch last year.


"NI21 is standing on a platform of radically reforming politics in Northern Ireland, " said Ms McKenzie. "We want to ensure that politicians are focused on the common good instead of tribal division; to ensure that politics is focused on the future . . . needs of the people instead of the trappings of government," she added.

Novel approach
NI21 has also concentrated on trying to bring fresh thinking to politics which was illustrated by some slightly off-beat election literature such as a "Don't Vote for Us" leaflets with, later, in smaller print, the addendum, "If You Think The Past Is More Important Than The Future".

Five of its 30 billboards are in Irish with voters urged to “Votáil Tina McKenzie do Eoraip”.

Its election broadcast also features two young Belfast men in a head-to-head sketch loosely based on the Mel Smith-Griff Rhys Jones act. One of the gags centres on a pro-union party having “one of them uns” as its European candidate . . . the ambiguity being over whether “one of them” refers to her being a woman or a Catholic.