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Basil McCrea releases bizarre videos on future of his crisis-hit party

By Erinn Kerr

Published 01/01/2016

Basil McCrea with Johnny McCarthy
Basil McCrea with Johnny McCarthy
Images from a video he posted on social media
Images from a video he posted on social media
Images from a video he posted on social media

NI21 leader Basil McCrea is continuing to shun the media following the resignation of the party's only elected representative - instead choosing to connect with the electorate in a series of bizarre videos.

The politician has refused to speak to the Belfast Telegraph about Johnny McCarthy's departure and has turned to social media to explain his plans for the future of the crisis-hit party.

On Wednesday night, the politician posted a one-hour broadcast condemning the traditional press and taking questions from people online on a range of topics including unionism and fuel poverty.

He complained of "spin, and news management, and image projection", but appears positive when he addresses the state of his party, telling the camera "you have to look at everything as being a long-term initiative".

Mr McCrea said it was too early to say how many candidates NI21 would field in the 2016 Assembly election but said the party was more about movement than membership.

He later said: "What I intend to do with the party is stand as an idea. And over the period of time I think people will change. I think people will come to it. We've certainly learned a lot."

Towards the end of the video Mr McCrea addresses councillor McCarthy's departure, saying: "I understand Johnny's decision, I respect it and wish him well for the future, and any more than that, there's not much more to say."

The Belfast Telegraph attempted to contact Mr McCrea regarding the video but got no reply.

The broadcast came just a day after Mr McCrea, who was elected to serve the Lagan Valley constituency as a UUP MLA in 2011 before quitting the party to set up NI21 in 2013, posted another bizarre video of himself partying in Belfast.

Mr McCrea had declined to comment on Mr McCarthy's departure, which left the party without its only politician elected under the NI21 banner, when contacted on Tuesday. Instead, Mr McCrea posted a video which showed him seemingly celebrating at ex-chairwoman Tina McKenzie's home.

He shot the video through the Periscope app and shared it with his followers on Twitter.

"Just wanted to show you that we in Northern Ireland know how to party," said Mr McCrea in the video entitled 'Storm Frank rages outside but inside there's a party #CurtainCall'.

At one point he pans his phone around to show revellers enjoying a large spread of food and drink while a band plays.

The 56-year-old also handed his phone to a fellow party-goer to film him dancing.

NI21 was set up in 2013 by Mr McCrea and John McCallister after they left the UUP in opposition to the then leader Tom Elliott's decision to enter into an electoral pact with the DUP for the Mid-Ulster Westminster by-election.

Mr McCallister quit NI21 in July 2014 after backing an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Mr McCrea.

Stormont's Standards and Privileges Committee is investigating the allegations against Mr McCrea. It is understood a report will be published in February.

Belfast Telegraph

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