Talking to politicians - Pt1

To be honest, I've never paid much attention to the political process in our country, never convinced it really made much difference in my life. Terrible as it is, I've usually asked my parents who they are voting for and gone that route, assuming they were paying more attention than I. However, with the upcoming European election, I decided to see if the poltical parties would be interested in sitting down with the apathetic voter and try to convince them why they deserve their vote. The plan is to spend fifteen minutes or so with someone from the office of each of the people standing for election to the European parliament, record the conversation and make it available online, with the assumption that it may be of interest to those who, like me, don't really have a clue. Step one was the sending of this email to the addresses provided to the party websites:
I am an early 30s voter who has never been convinced that voting
really makes a difference.
I would be interested in sitting down with someone from the party
and giving them fifteen minute to convince me why they should get
my vote. I would like to record this and make it available online
for the many like me who are, shall we say, politically apathetic.
Please let me know if this is a possibility.
Stuart Gibson
I shall update if/as I get responses. For reference, the people standing for election are as follows (taken from
  • Diane Dodds (DUP) - Response from Clive McFarland (2nd)
  • Bairbre de Brun (Sinn Fein) - Reponse from Brian Keane then Niall Ó Donnghaile with offer to meet in Stormont (5th)
  • Jim Nicholson (Conservative/Ulster Unionist) - Response from Alex Kane to organise a meeting
  • Alban Maguinness (SDLP)
  • Ian Parsley (Alliance) - Phoned to say they were hectic this weekend, but would sort someone out next week, most likely Ian Parsley (3rd)
  • Steven Agnew (Green) - Responded in person (1st)
  • Jim Allister (Traditional Unionist Voice) - Response from Sammy Morrison with campaign literature. Sent reply pushing for 1to1 time (4th) UPDATE: No, they won't talk to me.

Email Responses

Steven Agnew - Green Party

Hi Stuart, I would be happy to meet up to try to convince you and your readers/listeners that it is worth voting. However it is about more than just putting a number in a box, it's about playing an active role in your community. Similarly a politician has to do more than just turn up every few years looking for your vote. Blogging is part of active engagement. The internet has made 'community' much bigger but it's still community. Part of my inspiration for getting into politics was Jello Biafra's 'Become the Media' spoken word album. His message was simple "Don't hate the media, become the media" ie if your don't like the message you're hearing spread your own. Your doing that with your blog, I'm doing it through political campaigning. Anyhow, I'll try to save some for the interview. Am I right in thinking your based in Bangor? I could meet you in the Green Party office on Abbey Street on Monday at 4pm if that suits. Alternatively we can arrange to meet at Stormont some time. Let me know a time that would suit you and we'll chat then. Cheers, Steven.

Clive McFarland - DUP

Stuart, Thanks for your email to the party. It has been passed on to myself for a response. I would be happy to try and help you in what you are trying to achieve. I'd also be happy to talk to you at some stage. If necessary you can come here to our party headquarters and record something, or alternatively a phone interview might suffice. We're certainly keen to encourage everyone to participate in the democratic process and do whatever we can to increase people's access to politics. Regards Clive McFarland Policy Office FOLLOW UP Stuart, Just following up again after your last email - apologies that you had trouble replying. Technology has a habit of playing up at the worst times... I should be able to confirm with you tomorrow exactly what time would suit best to do the interview. Depending on where you're based there might be the chance of speaking to Diane in person if we were nearby at the right time. Again though I'd be able to confirm that more definitely tomorrow. Regards Clive

Alliance Party (sorry, didn't catch the name)

Phoned me to let me know they had a really busy week/weekend with paperwork, but weren't ignoring me and would sort someone out next week, which would probably be Ian Parsley because "he's good at these sort of things".

Sammy Morrison - Traditional Unionist Voice

Dear Mr Gibson, Thank you for your email. I have attached some information about the party and our candidate, Mr Allister. Should you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in them please do not hesitate to get back to me. Kind regards, Sammy Morrison UPDATE - response to request to actually meet someone from the party Dear Mr Gibson, I am afraid this is not possible. I am, however, very happy to answer any questions you may have via email. Kind regards, Sammy Morrison

Brian Keane/Niall Ó Donnghaile - Sinn Fein

Stuart a chara, I could make points by email but clearly that is not what you are looking for. Can you give me an indication of what part of the country you are in and I can try to arrange something. Is mise Brian Keane -- Stuart a chara, Your e-mail regarding an interview with someone from Sinn Féin on the issue of voting has been passed on to me. I would be happy to arrange something with you to get a chat on this issue. It would most likely take place here in Stormont in that suits you ok? I could also do it over the telephone, I'm sure you can appreciate it is a busy time for us in Sinn Féin, we are fighting an election in every constituency in Ireland and trying to convince as many people as possible to vote for change and a strong voice in Europe. Feel free to contact me to discuss the issue further. Go raibh maith agat, Is mise, Niall Ó Donnghaile

Alex Kane - UUP

Hi Stuart, I am quite willing to have a chat with you. Perhaps you could let me have a few dates and times which would suit and we can try and tie down a time? Regards Alex. Alex. Kane UUP Director of Communications