Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Community workers form political party

From left, Jamie Bryson, youth cohesion worker, Karen Worrall, Rathgill community development officer, Alison Blayney, director, Kilcooley women’s centre and Mark Gordon, community development manager, Kilcooley Forum

Bangor boasts a new political party fronted by some of the town’s community workers who proclaim one common goal — “to stand up” for its working class communities.

Alison Blayney, who, by day, is director of Kilcooley women’s centre, spoke to the Community Telegraph on Monday (December 6) in her capacity as member of the new party — Community partnerships NI.

She explained: “The driving force behind the decision to set up a new political party was the fact that people in the communities where we work and represent, were telling us they didn’t feel they had adequate political representation.

“Mark Gordon, Karen Worell, Jamie Bryson, myself and a few others who work with the community on a daily basis were already lobbying for |community facilities and community services in our capacities as |community workers.

“We thought it’s easy to criticise other councillors and parties’ actions, maybe we should see what it’s like for ourselves and actively do something to represent the local community in the way they want.

“Our party seeks to offer constituents a strong, clear voice within local government and will endeavour to ensure local communities are no longer subjected to a ‘top down' approach when it comes to having their needs met.

“We have serious issues with councillors who double job at the Stormont assembly and at local council.

“They end up missing vital and important community partnership meetings. We have seen this happen many times and we want to do something about this.

“We have been told time and time again by those who live in the community that they don’t want to vote for empty seats at the important meetings that affect the local community directly.”

She continued: “North Down Borough Council has become very stale.

“There are a lot of people who have been there for a long time, and the public are telling us they feel some councillors have become too |complacent.

“We are are not held up on green and orange issues either.

“Yes, we are a pro-union party but we want to represent all working class communities in this area; we work on a community level, and believe in equality for all.

“We hope to put forward six candidates to stand in the North Down council elections next May and put forward one MLA candidate for the Assembly elections and are working closely with the Electoral Commission to ensure we do administer everything by the book.”

The party’s website is currently under construction, but in the meantime people can join their facebook group to receive updates — type in ‘Community Partnerships Northern Ireland’ into the facebook search engine.

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