NI21 candidates badly let down in sad debacle
There have been many political twists and turns in Northern Ireland, but one of the most spectacular implosions has been that of the N121 party.
The events of recent days initially seemed to have all the elements of a farce, as the political car crash took place in full public view.
Sadly, this huge party row has developed a tawdry edge, with accusations and counter- accusations.
In reality, the demise of N121 is one of the most dramatic political meltdowns ever witnessed in Northern Ireland.
Now it is difficult to see how the party can recover from this debacle.
It is understandable that this story has overshadowed not only the European elections, but also the local council elections, which will see one of the biggest political shake-ups here in 42 years.
But it is sad to witness the shell-shocked reactions of the 47 council hopefuls from N121, whose hard work seems to have come to nothing.
This whole affair has been badly handled, and no one at the top has come away unscathed. Some people have criticised John McCallister for taking the issue directly to the media just before the party's first major test. Others, however, could convincingly argue that he had no option.
Basil McCrea has strongly denied allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, but whatever transpires, his party has been fatally damaged.
His judgment and management of the party have also been disastrous in the run-up to such a crucial election. The NI21 debacle should not deter others from trying something new in politics. Freshness and new opportunities are the lifeblood of democracy.
However, it is a great pity that this youthful experiment in trying something new has ended up in such a disaster, and that the many newcomers to politics have seen their dreams and their political ambition so badly damaged through no fault of their own.
The short history of N121 is a classic example of how not to run a party. Voters, and the political newcomers, deserved better.