May 8, 2013
My name is Mike Nesbitt. I am the Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Northern Ireland’s oldest party dedicated to maintaining and advancing the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
I am one of the six MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) for the constituency of Strangford.
On this site you will finds some basic information about me, but if you want to keep really up to date, please follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and check the party website http://www.uup.org
Better still, come join us in the Ulster Unionist Party. We are dedicated to Doing What’s Right for Northern Ireland.
January 4, 2012
The Ulster Unionist Party hosted a Reception today at Stormont for Sergeant Ryan McCready of the Royal Irish. What an impressive man!
Do not confuse Ryan for someone who woke up one day and committed an outstanding act of bravery in Afghanistan, although he did, and that is why he was awarded the accolade of Most Outstanding Soldier award at the Military Awards for British Troops. That itself is why we wanted to honour him today.
I had the privilege of listening to Ryan for a few short minutes talk intelligently and passionately about his work. He had two themes, neither touching the physical violence he is trained to deploy when required, and which not only saved the lives of his colleagues, but leaves him to live the rest of his life with shrapnel in his neck.
Firstly, he spoke of the need to protect and persuade the Afghan people, rather than punish and pressurise them. He and his Royal Irish colleagues encouraged the native Afghanistan population to come to respect the RIR values, not least their professionalism, selfless devotion to public service, and humanity. That alone did more to disarm the Taliban of the area than any old-style military operation.
Ryan’s second theme was how the RIR are not only adapting to deal with the current round of funding cuts from the MoD, but looking ahead to anticipate the future – in terms of finances, but more importantly, as the Army’s leading Regiment in terms of its ability to adapt to offer the new ways of soldiering that will be required as the 21st Century progresses.
I often admire Rory McIlroy as a ambassador for Northern Ireland. In fairness, Rory himself would accept he operates in a comfortable and privileged zone. In reciprocal fairness, he does so brilliantly. Sergeant Ryan McCready could give him a match in the ambassadorial stakes.
I am most grateful for meeting him today, and inspired to do my own job all the better tomorrow.
January 3, 2012
Ulster Unionist Mike Nesbitt MLA, has highlighted the £18,000 spent by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on external consultants, who were paid to review the work of a second set of consultants.
A Written Question from the Strangford MLA has revealed a total of £93,185 was spent on the consultation exercise following the publication of the draft strategy on Cohesion Sharing and Integration, including two five figure sums on consultants.
Mr Nesbitt said: “The CSI strategy has rightly been described as something that will impact every citizen of Northern Ireland, so I have no difficulty with OFMDFM doing what it can to ensure it seeks as wide a range of views as possible about its intended approach.
“Whatever way you dress up the language, they paid consultants to review consultants. They spent £22,945 on what they are calling “Independent Facilitators” who helped deliver 11 public meetings and 15 events for specific sectoral interest bodies.
“They then paid a further £18,052 on what they describe as “Independent Analysis” and the latter’s report makes clear that their terms of reference included an evaluation of the consultation process undertaken by the original group, and an assessment of how inclusive those meeting were. In other words, OFMDFM paid one group of external experts to comment on the work of another group of external experts.
“It is interesting to note that the total for the original Independent Facilitators is almost exactly double the costs recorded for staging the 26 events. Add in the cost of the second set of consultants and you find that for every pound spend on booking a hall or providing a tea or coffee, another four pounds was spent asking an external expert to analyse answers.
“In the current economic climate, this must be hard to justify. I imagine the electorate will be wondering why there is no in-house expertise in this area.”
December 31, 2011
Yesterday, my friend and I visited a man we last worked with 32 years ago, as binmen for Ards Borough Council. It was one of the best things I did in 2011. It will also inform what I do in 2012, which should be a year dedicated to building a better, and better connected society.
December 20, 2011
Mike Nesbitt MLA, says the news coming out of Brussels regarding next year’s fishing quotas underlines the need for urgent reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
The Strangford MLA and Ulster Unionist Economy spokesman said: “The Minister points to success regarding prawns, with no change to the quota, despite the European Commission starting by proposing a 19% cut. That is certainly the element where you could say the glass is half full. But against that comes news of what is happening to the cod and herring quotas, which have both received vicious and unwarranted cuts. In this regard, the glass is more than half empty, and it seems to me this is an annual issue that needs to be addressed differently.
“I would be keen to work with representatives of the fishing fleet, and our MEPs to start negotiating now for next year. We have strong scientific arguments that need to be aired early if we are to have any chance of reversing the trends that are choking the industry.
“Ultimately, the solution lies in moving away from the current one-size-fits-all policy and recognising regional difference. I had high hopes the current European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, would press for a new, regional policy, given her experience of the way Europe has devastated small fleets in her native Greece, but it appears the dead hand of Brussels bureaucracy has intervened.
“We also need to think what else we can do beyond Europe. There are inshore fishing opportunities to explore for boats under 10 metres, and we must push the UK authorities to ensure a light touch when it comes to enforcement issues, such as the employment of foreign nationals on our fleets.
“On top of all that I will be tireless working with my colleague, Councillor Angus Carson, who has invaluable experience working the fleet, to explore opportunities for Portavogie and our other ports to develop a role within the supply chain as off shore renewable energy initiatives embed in the Irish Sea in the years ahead. Belfast Harbour has already committed £50 million in constructing a logistics facility for Dong of Denmark. There is clear potential for Portavogie on back on that.”
December 16, 2011
• Private constituent meeting
• Spokespeoples’ Meeting
• Assembly Group Meeting
• Ministerial statement to Assembly
• Constituency business
• Draft Economic Strategy research
• Private meeting, business leader
• Constituency business
• Reception Assembly and Business Trust
• Constituency Association Meeting
• Assembly and Business Trust Breakfast Briefing (Office of Fair Trading)
• Constituency business
• Assembly Group Meeting
• Question to Education Minister (Viability Audit)
• Support, Foodbank, Thriving Life Church, Movilla, Newtownards
• Speech, debate on “Pay Day Loans”
News release re: Comptroller & Auditor General’s report into Titanic Building http://tinyurl.com/bm586hb
• Federation of Small Businesses Dinner, Hillsborough Castle
• Constituency work
• Briefing, Irish Football Association
• Spokesperson’s work
• Committee of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (2.00 to 5.30pm)
• News Release re: unemployment figures http://tinyurl.com/7ujckrt
Private meeting, security force victim family
News Release re: Money Advice Service
http://tinyurl.com/ckzlg5k• Reception, Chartered Institute of Public Relations
• Breakfast meeting, business leader
• Enterprise Trade & Investment Committee
• Lunch discussion, business leaders
• Constituency Office
• Greyabbey, meeting residents, traders, NI Water
• Constituency office
• Private meetings
As Stormont is in Recess until the 3rd of January, there will no further weekly diaries in the meantime, as all I could report would be “Private Meetings”. May I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy and hopefully Prosperous 2012.