Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Don't chase dinosaurs chase unicorns

Get to know the person before voting for the politician

Am I a unicorn? I have been called many things since becoming involved in NI politics. This was the most frightening. If I am a unicorn i.e rare and on my own then I have no hope of helping change the landscape of our society.

Is it always a bad thing to be a unicorn? Whilst attending an international business school in Holland we were schooled that to be the first to create an open new market ensures you normally get to lead the way. Maybe then, NI21 are leading the way for others to tread more easily.

I myself confuse a lot of people. I hear them inadvertently question whether I'm orange or green? "How can she have been in a "republican" family yet support a "Unionist" party?... What are her real motives? Does she have another agenda?". The truth of the matter is that I am neither green nor orange.

I grew up in a family -- like most other families in NI in 1970s and 1980s -- with deprivation, the Troubles, and an adrenaline-filled community spirit. The experiences I remember are might be surprising to some people who know me today. 

At the age of eight I remember looking at the British soldier on the Andersonstown Road firing shots into the crowd. He did not scare me but the fear in the eyes of the screaming people and the shaking of my mother’s hand scared me. I (like most families in my area) was attending a funeral of a neighbour who had died in the H Blocks.

Monthly on a Tuesday, I would go up to see my ‘chocolate Daddy’, as we called him, and see what he thought about it all. My Daddy had been in Long Kesh since before I was born, he was the man who always had Dairy Milk Chocolate when we visited.

The RUC plays in my memories too. The slam of the jeep doors in the middle of the night. All 6 of them. For some reason, there were always 3 jeeps, 2 British Army and 1 RUC. I still jump when a door bangs. This was the noise that would waken us as children when the front door was about to be knocked down. Within minutes, many men with different coloured faces would be in our room shouting and pulling back our bedcovers. This was part and parcel of the life we had. I know I am very lucky compared to many when it comes to the Troubles -- I was never a victim. But even as a child I wondered what the neighbours were thinking of us. I didn’t know why, but I remember feeling the shame.

As I got a little bit older I felt another shame. Shame of realising that we were poor. If I’m really honest with myself, it is still one of the things that drives me today. Of course, it is easy for me to admit this now that I have come on such a long journey proving myself to myself. I feel deeply for all those people who feel shame. I still carry a little myself. This must be the worst of all feelings to have, feeling helpless and humiliated. The mother who cannot afford to fill the oil tank yet buys her son designer trainers so that he does not feel shame with his classmates; the business person who re-mortgaged for the new car and takes loans and credit cards for clothes and holidays just so his family don’t feel the shame. All shame feels the same, it knows no class nor religion.

I could have gone one way or the other. I could have easily dropped into the culture of Republicanism. Goodness knows, I had many, many reasons to feel angry. Instead, I was more interested in ensuring that I did not feel helpless or ashamed again. I decided to go to University and work, and work, and work until I became successful.

I was lucky that people believed in me and that great people have allowed me to lead them in business. I have worked many years in Northern Ireland with many in my team from different backgrounds. I secretly loved that my little Belfast team was my own little peace project back in 2001. I knew all of their backgrounds. One of my team came from a family who for generations had been in the police, another was English and her family served in the army here, another’s father was blown up by his own bomb, and another’s father had secretly helped negotiate the 1998 Agreement. We all had a fun environment. We worked hard and were extremely successful and we all still keep in touch. 

Of course my own childhood and background was a closely guarded secret, especially as I had been discriminated against at my first job after University. The organisation I was working for reneged on my promotion because of who I was related to and where I was from. They told me though not to worry because they knew it was nothing to do with me! I packed up a few weeks later and went to London to build a life away from this. I did not know it then but I was running away from my past. 

Some of my international colleagues reading this will be surprised! I learnt when climbing the greasy corporate ladder that you never ever let people see your weaknesses. This is where I missed the game because in fact the great leaders I was lucky to work with were very open about their weaknesses and pasts. This in fact is what courage really is and courage makes good leaders great.

Coming Out

My “so called” success didn’t give me the courage to “come out” -- it was the people in my life that love me for who I am and not anything else. 

Coming out for me meant being honest and saying I actually having the courage to openly state my political opinion. Here goes again: I, Tina McKenzie, think Northern Ireland is better placed within the UK. I did consider other people before declaring my view. If I openly joined a political party supporting the notion of staying within the UK, would it look really bad for my family? Would it look really bad for my business? After all of the heartache my community went through, am I then hurting this community more? What will people think of me? Will I feel ashamed again, because I had worked so hard to build a core of protection around me to ensure that was never coming back. 

I am not a disloyal person, in fact the opposite, but surely loyalty starts with being loyal and true to oneself. 

I decided if I was going to do it, I would do it well. I quickly became one of the leaders of a new liberal political party. I knew I would be called names. The worst day came when the leading Belfast papers’ headlines screamed “IRA Bomber Daughter is Chief Unionist”. I didn’t know which part of that headline was worse. 

The world did not stop. I did not feel shame, although I did feel fear for my little children (I also never want them to feel shame because of me). As time went on I became more and more proud of looking shame and fear in the eye and challenging myself and everyone else to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Don’t judge a book by its cover! That goes for me and NI21. I believe we have a platform to build a United Northern Ireland that does not ask us to choose between our politics and our culture. I am as Irish as any Republican. We want a party that stands up and celebrates all of our cultures and does not deny who we are, the good, the bad and the ugly. Celebration of one culture does not mean dismissal of another but we must respect our neighbours and be mindful that we live in an evolving and diverse society. 

I have one more secret. It will be revealed fully next week but in short it is this... If people still think I’m a unicorn, I know I’m not the only one. There are so many of us in Northern Ireland who have our own stories -- who live outside of the orange and green dichotomy and who are fed up with conversations that leave us out. We are the people too! But we’ve been silent for a long time. Good news is we’re finding our voices, we’re joining together, and we’re finding our own way to change the conversation. It’s official: we unicorns need to stand up and be heard, so I hope to meet you all soon.


Follow Tina on Twitter @ Tina for Europe

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jim'll Fix It

Does anyone remember Jim (Dodgy) Dowson?

The Scottish shit-stirring windbag was very prominent in the early days of the fleg protests and was likely to be seen at Belfast City Hall wielding his trusty bucket collecting money for "loyalist prisoners" or whatever cause he was "supporting" that week.

Jim Dowson, shit-stirring Scottish C.U.N.T. (Citizen Under Nationalist Threat)
So successful was Dodgy at the old shit-stirring thing that he was swiftly arrested by the peelers - pretty much at the same time as fellow C.U.N.T.s (Citizens Under Nationalist Threat) Wee Jamie Bryson and Willie (The Tazer) Frazer.

Before getting involved in saving Belfast from the horror of Belfast City Hall only flying the Union Fleg on designated days (in common with other U.K. cities) Dowson (a former Calvinist Minister) had been involved in all sorts of dodgy money making schemes exposed by anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate.  His so-called Life League - an extremist anti-abortion group specialised in sending photographs of foetuses to schools and the like.

Jim Dowson - photographs of dead foetuses not pictured
Most famously Dowson was fund raiser for the BNP and managed the membership of the right-wing organisation from his HQ in Dundonald. Dowson subsequently fell out with Nick Griffin over, you guessed it money, but not before some high profile industrial tribunal cases, claims that Dowson "owned" the BNP and rows over European funding. Dowson finally 'quit' the BNP (he claims he was never a member!) " after being accused of groping a blonde activist".

Before leaving the BNP in 2010 the Scottish Daily Record published an expose of Dowson detailing his criminal convictions including breach of the peace in 1986, possession of a weapon and breach of the peace in 1991 and criminal damage in 1992. He was forced out of his local Orange Lodge and took part in demonstrations against fellow Orangemen, attacking them as "atheists and boozers" after he was "born again".

Dowson subsequently set up a rival far right racist group called 'Britain First' in 2011 with fellow BNP outcast and trusted lapdog Paul Golding using the database of contacts he had gathered in his Dundonald operation to secure support - and funding.

After his arrest in March 2013 Dowson set up an offshoot of Britain First - the Protestant Coalition with fellow hardliners Wee Willie Frazer, former UPRG man Davy Nicholl, Tiger's Bay Loyalist Bill (Bollocks) Hill, Woodvale self-confessed "dangerous man" Rab McKee and notably Paul Golding.

Dowson claimed that everyone was welcome to join the Protestant Coalition!

Protestant Coalition registration forms showing Jim Dowson as 'Leader' and Paul Golding as 'Treasurer'
Before long Dowson (and his new friends) were up to his old tricks:

1. The Bucket is Back

Jim Dowson and Paul Golding collecting money for Help The Heroes at Scarva in July 2013
2. Claiming victory over the PSNI

The Protestant Coalition, claiming violence against the PSNI is justified
3. Putting up misleading shit-stirring photographs

The Protestant Coalition: shit stirring bollocks
 4. Exploiting the tragedy of Omagh

The Omagh Bombing: All Catholics were to blame
Jim Dowson's time at the Protestant Coalition came after a very public row on social media with the PUP's Izzy Giles when he launched a series of homophobic tirades.

It's worth pointing out at this point that as part of Dowson's bail conditions he is banned from using social media. Izzy was unconvinced that Jim was obeying this ruling.

I'm not Jim Dowson - honest officer
Not long after the Protestant Coalition apologised for Dowson's rant and quickly thereafter Dowson ostensibly left the party. We have it on very very good authority that Dowson was told to step down by "the boys".

Dowson has due to his bail conditions been quiet in Northern Ireland of late but has found other ways to stay active notably via the Facebook account of one 'Alice Dowson'. Other loyalists (even Twat King Cole) have been quick to pick up on this but to the best of our knowledge no action against 'Alice' has been taken by the authorities.

I'm still not Jim Dowson, my name is 'Alice', said Jim
Yesterday the world was rocked to learn that one of the few remaining members of the Protestant Coalition, Rab McGee had quit citing "health and family problems" (but no mention of a run in with some paramilitaries last week).

With Hill, Golding and Nicholl leaving during 2013 that only leaves Willie Frazer (and possibly So It Is Sam) from the remaining "Gang Of Shite".

Rub McGee, surrender monkey
But what of Dowson?

As 'Alice' he continues to share the fascist filth peddled on Britain First's vile Facebook page.

Alice Dowson - definitely NAT Jim Dowson. Really
And the big news: Jim is back in the fleg game telling Britain First's 131,000 gullible Facebook followers that "every town in Ulster has 'British zones' and in these areas people feel united and safe" - try telling that to the people of Carrick and Larne Jim! 

Jim Dowson and Britain First. Horseshit.
We hope Dowson's bail conditions are relaxed soon and he is allowed to speak in public. He is the greatest advertisement for a liberal, tolerant, progressive pluralist society anyone could hope for.

The way we were. The Protestant Coalition: (L-R) So It Is Sam, Rub McGee, Wee Willie, Billy Bollocks, Cher (guest shit-stirrer), Dodgy

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Trouble oop North


This is a guest post by Hugh McCloy

Hugh has been a health & family law lobbyist since 2007 involved in groups including Save The Mid, RFFJ and, for a time, F4J. Hugh stood as an Assembly candidate in 2010 for Mid Ulster

The views expressed by Hugh do not necessarily reflect those of LAD

Edwin Poots has now brought in the NHS Chief Sir Liam Donaldson to head the NI health service review group.  At one time he was country’s most senior doctor and unexpectedly resigned. Chief medical officer Liam Donaldson surprised the NHS by stepping down after a reign which saw him accused of botching the training of junior doctors and orchestrating the response to swine flu.

Remedy UK, which represents junior doctors, said his resignation had come two years too late. They initially called on him to go after the introduction of a botched online application system for junior doctors, which led to hundreds of candidates not being interviewed for jobs. More than 15,000 doctors failed to find posts and some were forced to seek work abroad. Head of policy Dr Richard Marks said: ‘We were after his blood. His review of doctors’ training was done so ham-fistedly and it was rushed. We were very annoyed that he messed up but refused to go. He was never independent enough of government. His number one loyalty was always to government than to doctors."

Is this the type of independent person who will review health in Northern Ireland, or will he do what the government wants him to do?

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1236179/Sir-Liam-Donaldson-quits-NHS--critics-say-resignation-years-late.html#ixzz2yQGm8ViC


In the Northern Trust there have been even more changes recently

Mary Hinds has returned to the Public Health Agency after a major discussion with Edwin Poots, regarding the decision not to admit publicly that more deaths have been pinned on the Northern Trust. After all this time has Mary finally brought her nursing skills to the management table and asked for accountability into deaths, and if so the why has Edwin Poots stopped this?

Within the Trust Dr Calum MacLeod was introduced as a Medical Director but after a short spell in the role disappeared when the news of the deaths started to break in the media. At the time they were citing ill health, which seems a reasonable enough excuse, as trying to keep the lid on deaths in the Trust can be no easy job. One suggestion is that he faced a vote of no confidence by medical consultants and was therefore removed.