Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Punk legend Hooley goes into politics, but he’s not aiming for a Stormont job

Terri Hooley outside his Good Vibrations record shop in Belfast

Belfast's ‘godfather of punk’ Terri Hooley is to enter the world of politics — but you won’t see him at Stormont anytime soon.

The 64-year-old is joining forces with maverick political activist ‘Rainbow’ George Weiss to form the Belfast Wonder City Party.

While the fledgling party is planning to run candidates in the next Assembly elections, Hooley insists he will not be the party’s frontman — or running for office.

“I’m registering the new party here and I certainly will be involved in it in some shape or form,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“George wants me to lead the party and has tried to convince me, but I’m not looking to do that,” he added.

The DJ ran the record label and shop Good Vibrations, and is known as one of the first champions of the band The Undertones.

The music veteran’s record shop was a focal point for the Belfast punk scene in the 1970s and he brought music festivals to the city at the height of the Troubles.

Hooley’s profile as a Belfast icon has gained momentum in recent years. Last year, he was honoured with a plaque from Belfast City Council to recognise his contribution to music, and was voted Lord Mayor of the Cathedral Quarter. A biopic of his life, Good Vibrations, was shown at Cannes film festival last May and is about to be released in cinemas.

“I am aware of the public votes, like the one that led to being Lord Mayor of the Cathedral Quarter. There was a Facebook campaign called Terri Hooley for NI that lasted a while, but my sights aren’t set on that large a scale,” he said.

Hooley helped Rainbow George make history by running in all four Belfast constituencies at the same time in the Westminster elections of 2001.

He is now planning to enter into politics with the eccentric English peace activist who describes himself as a ‘visionary’.

“When George came to Belfast he started using my shop as his headquarters. He all but took over my life at the time. He has some mad ideas but he’s very passionate,” he added.

Weiss bowed out of Northern Ireland politics five years ago.

The 72-year-old lives in a retirement home in Highgate, London and said he will no longer run for public office.

“I won’t lead the party but I am aiming for it to pick up the legacy that I left behind. I want to give the people of Belfast a chance to vote for an independent city state,” he said.

Rainbow George pocketed over £700,000 when he sold a Hampstead house he had squatted in for 20 years in 2004. He now says he is “pretty much destitute”. “I spent everything I had on my various projects which on the surface haven't gone far, but I have great memories from them,” he added.

Weiss has been missing from the politics scene for the past five years.

Profile

2001: Weiss stood as a candidate for all four Belfast constituencies

2003: Stood in the Brent East by-election, receiving 11 votes

2004: Given ownership of a house under squatters rights and sold it for £710,000 to fund his campaigns

2006: Signed snooker payer Alex Higgins as the figurehead for his campaign before Higgins threatened Weiss in a disagreement over money

2008: Rainbow party disbanded

2013: Forms the Belfast Wonder City Party with Terri Hooley

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