Proof, if it were needed, of how capable the soon to be ex Deputy General Secretary Alison Millar is.

The General Council have decided they need to appoint two men to do the work Alison did by herself.

This will come as no real surprise to anyone who knows Alison but it will come as a monumental shock to some people that there are apparently no interviews to be held (what was that about a “democratic” union?) for the now two full time Deputy General Secretary posts nor any explanation as to how, in a time of austerity and decreasing membership, NIPSA intends to fund their salaries – which we have been led to believe is more than an average members / workers wage.

Hard luck to anyone who was hoping to compete for the post of Deputy General Secretary in a fair and democratic merit based process.






Vitriolic and divisive in defeat.

The Socialist Party have released the following statement on the rejection of their candidate in the recent NIPSA General Secretary election. An abject lesson on how to sell a defeat as a victory and yet more divisive rhetoric. Nothing new here.

Socialist Party’s Patrick Mulholland gains 44% – Broad Left emerges stronger throughout NIPSA

Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast

The last six weeks has seen one of the most high profile trade union elections in Northern Ireland for decades. The election was for general secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA), the largest union in in Northern Ireland, with members from across the civil and public services and the voluntary sector. Socialist Party member, Patrick Mulholland, stood as the Broad Left candidate in the election, against the candidate of the NIPSA establishment, Alison Millar.

Patrick’s campaign distributed tens of thousands of leaflets to hundreds of workplaces. It waged a high profile campaign which provoked discussion among people outside of NIPSA, about what type of trade union movement we need. Patrick’s campaign focused on the policies and programme necessary to make a difference to NIPSA members.

He committed to only taking a worker’s wage if elected and ensuring the trade union movement develops a real strategy to fight cuts. As general secretary he would have implemented decisions of NIPSA conference including advocating a democratic socialist alternative to austerity.

Patrick had the opportunity to speak at hustings and meetings across the country to put forward ideas that could transform the trade union movement and the fight against austerity

Alison Millar’s campaign had the support of the majority officials in NIPSA and the resources that comes with it. It did not stop a tirade of vile religious sectarian abuse being waged at Patrick and his supporters, which should be condemned by all in the trade union movement.

Build a movement against cuts

The victory of the Millar campaign is no doubt welcomed by the main political parties in Northern Ireland. For example, Jim McVeigh, the leader of Sinn Fein on Belfast City Council, and Nelson McCausland, former Democratic Unionist Party minister at in the devolved local government ‘power-sharing’ Assembly, both warned of the danger of the left in NIPSA winning the general secretary position. Their parties dominate the ruling Assembly Executive, which will decide on making huge cuts that will drastically affect NIPSA members, their families and the wider communities.

Patrick gained an impressive 44% of the vote, with 4,958 votes. The NIPSA Broad Left, many of who are members of the Socialist Party, still has a majority on the general council in NIPSA, holds the union’s elected president position and will be stronger in every area of the union in the turbulent years to come.

Socialists should now use this strength to build a movement against cuts, oppose attempts to link with sectarian parties and build a left-wing alternative in Northern Ireland.

Gracious and respectful in victory.

This is the message posted by Alison Millar on the occasion of her having been elected General Secretary of NIPSA.

“It is a privilege to be elected as the new Nipsa General Secretary and I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who worked on my campaign and every single member who took part in the election.

Whether you voted for me or not what is critical is the future of Nipsa and the trade union movement.

It is vital we move forward together and united to ensure we remain the strong independent trade union we have always been. Whilst there must be room for debate about the future direction of Nipsa, there can be no room for division.

Our opponents do not exist within the ranks of Nipsa. We have a common enemy that we must unite against and that is the enemy of austerity and those who would dismantle and destroy our public services.

We must place real member issues at the heart of everything we do and we must work together to build and strengthen Nipsa.

Thanks again to all those who worked tirelessly on my behalf to elect a General Secretary for All. I intend living up to that pledge”.


If Carlsberg did irony. One for the slow learners out there.

Courtesy of the Collins English Dictionary here’s a handy “cut out and keep” ready reckoner for those members of factions within NIPSA who like to harp on and wax lyrical about their own anti-sectarian credentials and how they are going to “fight sectarianism”.

Is it starting to make sense yet?
Is it starting to make sense yet?

Do you see the problem? Yes, that’s right, by definition you’re the problem.

Makes uncomfortable reading, doesn’t it?

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.


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