NI21 won’t contest in NW this time out

Basil McCrea, Tina McKenzie and John McCallister of NI21
Basil McCrea, Tina McKenzie and John McCallister of NI21

The leader of unionism’s newest political party says it’s disappointing NI21 won’t be contesting local elections in Londonderry next month.

Basil McCrea told the Sentinel the party simply hasn’t had time to organise in Londonderry and Limavady to the required extent.

NI21 was founded in June 2013, by breakaway Ulster Unionists Mr McCrea and John McCallister.

Last Wednesday (April 23) the party announced 47 candidates would contest local elections in the east of the province, whilst party chairman, Tina McKenzie, would contest for a seat in Brussels.

But whilst it’s too soon to contest in Londonderry today, Mr McCrea believes there’s a constituency here for NI21 to exploit.

“Unfortunately, the party, because it’s less than a year old, just didn’t have the infrastructure in place to run candidates in Derry,” he told the Sentinel.

“We do have a good bit of support there, however, and Tina, of course, is running on a Northern Ireland wide basis, so she’s a candidate NI21 supporters can vote for,” he added.

Mr McCrea is no stranger to the North West, of course.

Like local DUP MLA and Assembly Speaker William Hay, Mr McCrea is the scion of Ulster-Scots from Ramelton, and knows the area well.

He told the Sentinel: “We definitely intend contesting next time.

“I’ve made four or five trips up, not just to Derry, but to places like Bready, and the reaction has been very positive.”