NI21 membership could now be as low as 10

The membership of Basil McCrea's political party '“ which less than three years ago vowed to revolutionise politics '“ could now be as little as 10 people, the News Letter can reveal.

Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 7:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2016, 6:36 am
Basil McCreas NI21 took just £295 in membership fees in 2014-15

The party began to implode on the eve of its first electoral test in 2014 and has haemorrhaged members ever since, but Mr McCrea has insisted that NI21 would continue and had pledged to hold a party conference last spring, something which never happened.

According to the party’s 2014-15 accounts, which have been filed with the Electoral Commission, the party took in just £295 in membership fees during 2014-2015.

The NI21 website states that membership of the party costs £30, with concessionary membership fees set at £10 for students, senior citizens and the unemployed.

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If all of its members pay the full rate, that means that the party would have had 9.8 members last year – though since then its deputy leader, Johnny McCarthy, has quit.

Mr McCrea is clearly employed full time, but even if every other member was paying the concessionary rate, the maximum membership could only have been 26.

By contrast, the Green Party – which in the 2014 European election (the last election NI21 contested) polled just slightly more votes than Mr McCrea’s party – took in £5,471 in membership fees.

Green membership costs £24 per year for the waged and £12 per year for the unwaged.

The News Letter has been attempting to contact Mr McCrea since last week but he has not returned numerous calls and messages.

In total, the accounts show that the party brought in £66,444. But its expenditure was £72,520, leaving a deficit of £6,076.

The accounts named Johnny McCarthy as deputy leader, Olive Buckley as chairperson and Wendy Burke as treasurer.

The document also said that its income was “mostly membership and conference income, along with a little fundraising and election income and expenses”.

McCrea posts video as Lisburn court closure announced in Assembly

Basil McCrea chose to broadcast an online video from his Stormont office on Monday rather than go down to the chamber where the closure of the main courthouse in his constituency was being announced.

The Lagan Valley MLA broadcast the half-hour video while Justice Minister David Ford was making a statement about the closures of six courthouses.

At one point in the video, Mr McCrea appeared to belittle MLAs who bothered to question the minister in the chamber, referring to a question from UUP MLA Ross Hussey and saying “you know what, it’s much ado about nothing, really”. In another video, posted that night, Mr McCrea appeared to endorse the courthouse closures, saying: “To be honest, these things are probably worth closing. I didn’t speak on it; I mean, is anyone even paying any attention to this? Is anyone aware of what they’re saying?”

Mr McCrea also dismissed his former colleague John McCallister’s Opposition Bill – which was debated on Monday. Mr McCrea, who didn’t vote on many of the clauses in the bill, said that it had been “ripped to shreds”.