The union is dead, long live the union.

The sad reality surrounding the General Secretary election is that neither party is offering anything new.

Setting aside the ironic project fear red herring of sectarianism which, up until it was exposed as such, formed the back bone of Padraig / Patrick’s campaign, let’s look at the facts.

Padraig / Patrick and the bulk of the current General Council have had three years to deliver anything, yes anything, that constitutes an actual fight against the cuts. What have they done? Nothing, that’s what they appear to have done.  We hear daily this mantra about some strategy that Padraig / Patrick has yet, like Padraig / Patrick’s supposed ability to operate at the highest levels of negotiation, we have seen no evidence of it.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the apparent inaction of the predominantly Broad Left / Socialist Party controlled General Council during Padraig / Patrick’s term as President was an intentional ploy in order to turn this General Secretary election into a battle of personalities whereby blame for their inaction was, and is, apportioned to others / the status quo.

Deflection is the name of the game. Deflect from the fact that nothing beyond traditional tried and tested protesting and some lobbying has been done in real terms to fight the cuts in the public sector over the last three years. Nothing.

No meaningful measurable consultation has taken place with the membership and we have a situation where a political party and its foot soldiers are running the campaign for Padraig / Patrick. Their reward? In the event that Padraig / Patrick wins their reward will be the NIPSA union and it’s mandate to use as they see fit to further their own political agenda / ideals. There is, of course, nothing wrong with socialism or holding socialist views but the issue here is the covert acquisition of a union based not least on the instruction of the Socialist Party but also on election manifesto promises and rhetoric which the maker of same refuses to debate in public (Facebook / Twitter)  and which are not available for anyone to view or consider.

If anything Alison Millar offers more of the same, whether good or bad, as far as the current status quo is concerned. But she does so without the political instruction / interference of an outside political party, with no political affiliation or influence having a bearing on her choices and decisions and, of course, a far greater degree of experience than that of Padraig / Patrick.

Again she offers nothing in the way of a visible / debatable strategy to fight the cuts but there is one very important difference. If Alison Millar wins this election the union will still belong to the members and not a political party. Of course she will be attacked, frustrated and stymied at every turn by the current General Council in an attempt by them to portray anyone not subscribing to their political ideology as being inept and incapable of leading a union. But it is within the grasp of the ordinary membership to address that at the next General Council elections now that they are aware of how we have arrived at the position that we are now in, fighting not only for the political independence but also the very survival of NIPSA as an independent fighting union fighting for it’s members and not for the political interests of an outside political party which currently manages to hold so much sway.

Whatever the outcome NIPSA as we know it is over. Whoever is the victor in this General Secretary election will have very serious challenges facing them in trying to keep the union together, truly democratic and effective. That’s assuming they still have a “union” to save.


EDIT: 10:00am 01-November-2015.

Some may justifiably take issue with some of the content of his post, but even Padraig / Patrick agrees that NIPSA will never be the same again.

"NIPSA will never be the same".
“NIPSA will never be the same again”.

Stand up to bullying employers.

NIPSA staff forced to strike because of the undemocratic, bureaucratic, dictatorial behaviours of their employer.

In a move that will come as a shock to no one NIPSA staff will be taking industrial action against their employers tomorrow, Friday October 30th.

“Unite representative Kevin Kelly said it was a long-standing dispute and he accused Nipsa’s governing general council of a “failure to practice a standard of industrial relations that they would expect of their officials”. BBC site.

That’s the same Broad Left General Council who are supposed to be fighting for the democratic rights of employees. The same General Council who are asking people to vote for their fellow traveller in the current General Secretary elections to “build a stronger, democratic fighting union”.

It’d be funny were it not so tragic and serious.


Nipsa election plea not meant to be patronising.

From The Daily Gail.

PUBLISHED 28/10/2015

I was dismayed to read the letter penned by Tina Creaney, Clare McConnell, Sarah McCrossan and Liz Skelcher (Write Back, October 26) in relation to Lynn Carvill’s letter urging Nipsa members to vote for Alison Millar in the current general secretary elections for Nipsa, the largest trade union in Northern Ireland.

What my colleagues have written is that suggesting people should vote for Alison Millar because she is a woman is a patronising thing to do – and I wholeheartedly agree.

It saddens me greatly to see four female Nipsa members attempting to portray their fellow female trade unionist as someone pushing a “patronising” and “tokenistic” message, when this is not actually the case.

I feel very strongly that what Lynn Carvill said needs to be clarified and the record needs to be set straight.

Lynn Carvill wrote to the Belfast Telegraph that this election offers the voters the opportunity to vote for Alison Millar, whom she described as “the candidate with the greatest knowledge, experience and track record”.

This was not a letter saying vote for Alison Millar because she is a woman, as some seem to have labelled it,

I agree with Lynn’s assertion that to elect a woman to the role of general secretary within the union would make history.

Nipsa was formed in 1922 as the Belfast and District Public Officers’ Association and, in the 93 years since, has not had a single female general secretary.

I would urge all Nipsa members to vote for Alison Millar, because she is the best person for the job. If her victory also means the union will have its first female general secretary after nearly 100 years of existence, then I’ll be sure to celebrate this historic event as well.


By email

It all seems very quiet…. far as the Alison Millar camp is concerned.

There hasn’t been much in the way of new campaign materials or sloganeering on their part in the past few weeks.

Of course there is also the fact that she doesn’t have the full weight and support of a political party driving her campaign in the way that Padraig / Patrick has.

Don’t mention the “s” word.

It would appear from the latest Padraig / Patrick election materials being circulated in the “West of the Bann” area that the often referred to “threat of sectarianism” has been defeated, or it never really existed and was just a rather convenient soundbite for “project fear”.

No longer any threat of sectarianisn?
No longer any threat of sectarianism?

Either way, well done Padraig / Patrick.

Setting aside the apparent need to separate and divide the challenges facing members East and West of the Bann, terminology which in itself is part of the divisive sectarian vocabulary and mindset, it would be interesting to see or hear something about this “strategy to defend jobs and services West of the Bann” and how and why it differs from his, also unseen, strategy to defend jobs and services everywhere else in Northern Ireland.

On the “West of the Bann” issue Sinn Fein seem to agree with Padraig / Patrick (or Padraig / Patrick seems to agree with Sinn Fein, whichever) as can be seen here. So, perhaps refusing to “cosy up” to politicians (of whatever political hue) isn’t such a good strategy when it comes to saving / creating jobs?

That letter on gender equality being supposedly “irrelevant when fighting for social equality”.

A letter has appeared in the Belfast Telegraph today penned by supporters of Padraig / Patrick which takes issue with a letter which appeared in the same publication last week.

I’m not a great believer in sending views / click bait to a devoutly anti-union publication but for the purposes of transparency and accuracy I’ve linked to the letter above

Let’s have a look at some of the content and analyse it.

“In response to the letter from Lynn Carville (Write Back, October 21), don’t patronise us and disguise the Nipsa general secretary election as a fight for women’s rights.

As Nipsa members and active feminists we are proud that our fellow Nipsa members this year voted women into the positions of president (Carmel Gates), vice-president (Janette Murdock), honorary treasurer (Tanya Killen), chair of the Civil Service group executive (Maria Morgan) and the vice-chair of the public officers group (Alanagh Rea). We did this not because they are women, but because we decided that they are the best fighters and, therefore, best suited for the positions.”

” …not because they are women, but because we decided that they are the best fighters and therefore, best suited for the positions”. Really? Setting aside that they are all women, and clearly your type of women, I assume it is purely coincidental that they are all members of the Broad Left faction, a caucus within the union formed to take over the union as instructed by the Socialist Party?

Come off it girls, nobody is buying what you are peddling.

“To suggest that we should vote for Alison Millar simply because she is a woman is patronizing and tokenistic.”

No one is patronizing you, your persecution complex and victim mentality have clouded your judgement.  I don’t think Lynn Carville, or anyone for that matter, suggested voting for Alison Millar “simply because she is a woman”. She has many years experience as a negotiator and campaigner for members rights. You, however, appear to be set on attacking her “simply because she’s a woman” not of your particular collective political persuasion.

People have suggested voting for her based on her breadth of proven experience. If people vote for her in sufficient numbers and she wins the General Secretary election it is a fact, based on the rather inconvenient matters of history and her gender, that she will be the first female General Secretary of NIPSA. Most genuine feminists and campaigners for equality would welcome the coming about of such a situation.

“Patrick Mulholland has dedicated his entire life to fighting for social equality for all, and that includes women’s rights.”

As indeed have many hundreds of thousands of others. Nobody denies that he does, even I remember Patrick fighting for social equality for all when he was called Padraig.

“He does this not because it is his job (it isn’t), but because he is so committed to his socialist values that not fighting would allow injustice to continue”.

Again, millions worldwide fight social injustice at every turn with every living breath without the need to be called socialists or associated with socialism. You don’t own the revolution and this may come a somewhat of a surprise to you but the continuance or otherwise of injustice is not predicated by Padraig / Patrick campaigning.

“Socialist values” do not have a monopoly on moral values. There are millions if not billions of people worldwide who know right from wrong and recognize inequality and injustice and fight them tooth and nail every day. Your constant harping on about socialism and attempts to elevate individuals to a state of reverence trivialize the very revolutionary spirit and spirit of an equal society you purport to aspire to.

“Patrick has spent the last 30-plus years campaigning for an equal and anti-sectarian society for all”.

Nobody denies that he has been a tireless and dogged campaigner on many issues, but he wasn’t alone, was he? No one standing in this election hasn’t campaigned for an equal and anti-sectarian society for all, let’s be straight about that.

“Throughout our time as active Nipsa members and feminists it is Patrick that we see at almost every equality protest and demonstration – from Reclaim The Night and International Women’s Day to Pride and equal marriage demonstrations.”

Fantastic. Good for him, again he’s not the only regular face at these protests otherwise he’d be cutting a very lonely figure at them. I see the same photographers at most of these protests too. Even if they were to stand I wouldn’t be voting for them unless they could prove they had  adequate experience to hold the post. Photo opportunism does not constitute experience.

“If we were to support women just because they are women, then logic would dictate that Labour Party members should have voted for Liz Kendall instead of Jeremy Corbyn.”

You’re using the royal “we” to introduce a strawman argument based on a flawed logic. Let’s stick with the facts. Four female signatories of this letter are saying that the fact an individual as experienced as Alison Millar combined with the fact that she is a woman is not reason enough to support her in her campaign but instead the very prospect of her making female history in the NIPSA trade union should be used to attack her legitimate participation in a democratic election. Do you see how ridiculously detached from the concept of the advancement of gender equality your preposition actually is? Your earlier supposed position of supporting people “best suited” for positions looks like window dressing when one considers the far greater degree of experience held by Alison Millar.

“We are very glad that Labour Party members did not vote according to gender, but voted for a fighter who will change British politics for the better.”

I’m sure there were many who did vote according to gender. The fact is they voted for someone who talks a good campaign on issues but is short on actual practical delivery of those issues. Sounds familiar.

“A vote for Patrick Mulholland will have the same effect in Nipsa”.

That’s exactly right, see above. Whereas a vote for his opponent will put someone with real practical experience and a proven track record in the job.


There is of course a reason why there are no male signatories to this letter and that reason is that the Broad Left seem to think that attacks from the same gender will legitimize the criticism. It doesn’t, it merely shows that self-proclaimed “feminists” can jettison their particular brand of Clairol / l’Oreal Because I’m worth it tokenistic feminism in favour of a narrow political agenda to do the bidding of their male masters.

I notice one of the signatories uses a profile picture of a young girl, fist raised in the air, beside a slogan saying “A woman’s place is in the revolution”. It would appear that the remainder of the quote “…so long as she doesn’t challenge the status quo” is somewhere out of shot.

So much for that particular brand of “feminist” equality.

Better late than never.

It seems that the Padraig / Patrick campaign machine is in damage limitation mode and is trying to distance itself from….well, itself.

Having realized the preposterous contradiction of them promoting sectarianism (it’s not as simply defined as “orange” or “green”) by encouraging people to “Elect one of your own” whilst simultaneously campaigning against sectarianism they’ve now produced the following amended version of their campaign literature.

Somewhat embarrassing reworking of the original call to engage in sectarianism.
Reworking of the somewhat embarrassing original call to engage in sectarianism.

And here’s the original.

img_1064 - Copy - Copy

Let’s TalkTalk about hacking

It’s an unfortunate reality of the modern digital age that people will, from time to time, fall foul of individuals who seek to disrupt and subvert business and discourse. The current situation which TalkTalk finds itself in is a case in point.

Yesterday the Twitter account of General Secretary candidate Alison Millar fell victim to someone who hacked the account and deleted her tweets. Yes, that’s right, deleted her tweets.


You’d have to wonder what type of individual or group would be interested in suppressing democratic opinion to the point that they would be desperate and disingenuous enough to hack a twitter account and risk a possible criminal conviction for doing so.

It’s regrettable that at the time of writing the silence from many of those who call for fair play and open and democratic debate, who you would think would vehemently oppose such behaviours, is deafening.

True democrats will, of course, speak out against this type of attack. It is an attack on democracy, free speech and the promotion of trade unionism.

As Socrates might have said in a modern context “When the debate is lost, hacking becomes the tool of the loser”.

Speak out and condemn these behaviours.

Let me fix that for you….

The post below appeared on the twitter feed of @nipsaelection. It’s interesting for a number of reasons.

Let's talk about

Yes, many Headquarters staff and NIPSA unity members are indeed involved in Ms Millar’s campaign but then again so are many ordinary members, as is their right to do so in a democratic election involving a membership.

The commentator forgets to mention that the Broad Left and ordinary members are also involved in Padraig / Patrick’s campaign as they too are entitled to do and fails to mention the fact that the Socialist Party, a political party with no affiliation with NIPSA, which announced Padraig / Patrick’s candidacy, which has since 2006 been working to take over NIPSA and other unions for it’s own ends, has had its members (not members of NIPSA) campaigning outside various buildings on behalf of Padraig / Patrick. As such Padraig / Patrick’s camp have been anything but “quiet”.

Admittedly Twitter limits comments to 140 characters which makes reporting difficult but one would have thought, given that the account owner stated previously that the Twitter account was part of an effort to obtain a journalism qualification of some sort, that objectivity, impartiality and reporting of the facts might have been somewhat more to the fore of their reporting.

not a troll

I’m sure Padraig / Patrick would be disappointed to see this lack of acknowledgement of the hard work of his supporters, especially those who are giving of their time despite no connection to the union itself.

A way to go yet it would seem.

” …a little honesty about his alleged ‘worker’s wage’ would not go amiss”.

An interesting letter has been published in today’s Newsletter.

“In an advertisement he has taken out in the News Letter (October 20), Patrick Mulholland, who is opposing Nipsa’s deputy general secretary Alison Millar in the current election for a new Nipsa general secretary, states that if elected he will ‘live on a member’s wage’.

He will not. If elected, he would in fact take the full general secretary salary of £55,695 ( and presumably the pension that goes with it ) but claims he would donate some of it to causes that are not specified in any of his election literature.

He would of course be free to do what he likes with his own money as we all are, though most of us do not feel driven to boast about it when we contribute to charities and the like”.

Clearly people are actually starting to question this and other claims.

“With regard to his claimed opposition to sectarianism in the advertisement, this might have had more credibility had he not changed his name from ‘Padraig’ to ‘Patrick’ prior to the election and campaigned on the slogan ‘Vote For One Of Your Own.”

You can read the full letter over at the Newsletter site.