Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CI: Daithi McKay MLA
Daithí McKay is a Sinn Féin MLA and became the youngest member of the Assembly when he was elected at the age of 25. Prior to being elected as a local Councillor at the age of 23 Daithí was involved in aid work in the Palestinian West Bank, and has done work in Cuba, the Basque Country and Kurdistan.
He was elected in the constituency of
Last year he was involved in a physical confrontation with ‘dissident’ republicans in Ballymena, an incident which was captured by a BBC camera crew. He is one of the first republicans to take their seats on the Policing Board.
He is a strong critic of the north’s Environment Minister Sammy Wilson who doesn’t believe that human activity influences climate change, and he set up an all-party working group on Climate Change which he currently chairs. He also put forward a motion supporting the closure of the British Nuclear Power Plant Sellafield which was passed by the Assembly.
The first ever political awards ceremony in the north were organised by Slugger O'Toole in October 2008 and Mr McKay won the Up And Coming MLA of the Year award, beating off opposition from Simon Hamilton (DUP) and Basil McCrea (UUP).
He is also one of the only MLAs to have his own Blog which can be accessed at http://daithimckay.blogspot.com/, and one of a small number of MLAs who has a twitter page which can be accessed at http://twitter.com/daithimckay
What made you decide to start blogging?
I’ve always been a bit of a PR-geek and was our local party Press Officer for about 5 years so I saw the opportunity to use blogging as a form of communication to constituents. Like Twitter it also gives you an opportunity to colour your political ramblings with a bit of personality, something that you cannot always do in your standard TV and radio interviews, press statements, etc.
What triggered my decision to actually put aside some time and start a blog was being nominated for last year’s Slugger O’Toole political awards in
What is your best blogging experience?
That would be a difficult question to answer. I think the best blogging entries are those where you have time to sit down and articulate your opinions and feelings in some depth, which isn’t always possible given the obvious time constraints. One good experience from blogging is the feedback you get and a regular feedback I receive is in regard to my blogs on bringing the local Assembly up to speed in terms of having an effective internet presence and making the workings of it as transparent as possible online. I’ve had positive feedback on this from public and Assembly staff alike so I intend to continue pursuing that bugbear!
And your worst?
I haven’t really had one yet – touch wood!
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
My favourite is the entry I made on
I could list you dozens of local political blogs I read here, Killian Forde’s page would be one of the better ones, aside from that Balrog would be pretty colourful (in its look and its posts). Outside of
What inspired you to go into politics?
I’ve always felt that the work I’m involved in is a vocation rather than a ‘career’ and some people I speak to don’t understand that. I actually took a pay-cut to become a local councillor in 2005 and struggled financially for a couple of years in that role but I didn’t mind. As long as I’ve some sort of roof over my head, have food on the table and working both to better people’s lives and to toward my political objectives I’ll be happy. I’ve always aspired for collective gain rather than personal progress in the political world and hope that I will always maintain that position. What inspired me to join Sinn Féin was all the wrongs that I saw in this society and the need to correct them. That and helping those who are in greatest need continues to keep me going.
With regard to the recent murders of two British servicemen in Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness referred to the killers as "Traitors to the Island of Ireland", given the wording, is this a sentiment shared by many others in Sinn Fein?
The recent killings has done absolutely nothing to bring a united Ireland any closer and one of the main fears within the nationalist and republican community is that these killings will result in British troops being brought back to the streets and fields of the north and all of the harassment and conflict that we experienced here in the past being revisited upon us. Even republican commentators who disagree with Sinn Féin’s present strategy have admitted that the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998 introduced human rights and equality safeguards and it represented the end of the
As Environment Spokesperson, what would you say Northern Ireland can give to the Worldwide debate about how to tackle Global warming?
Leadership would be a good start! That’s something the present Environment Minister is lacking in the Six Counties with his outdated views on the causes of Climate Change. Seriously though I think that Ireland is in an excellent position to build a strong renewables industry, especially given the potential there is for wave and wind energy here, and I think that it is unfortunate that the Scottish Government are ploughing ahead in this field whereas here Ministers are dithering. To be honest
Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?
I’ve always wanted to go to
Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
I was in the Palestinian territories doing aid work about 5 years ago and after seeing the attacks on
Who do you regard as the best Sinn Fein leader, and, if possible, the best First Minister?
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness both have distinct attributes which have made them the leadership figures they are. Either of them would make an excellent First Minister or Taoiseach at some point in the near future! Aside from them John O’Dowd and Conor Murphy stand out as strong leadership figures.
Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?
I’ve never really had an individual person who inspired me to go down the political path I’ve gone down or do the work that I do. If I had to plug for one though, it would be Ernesto Che Guevera. An iconic figure of course, and is an inspiration because of his sheer selflessness and willingness to sacrifice himself for the benefit of other people. The same would go for the Irish hungerstrikers who gave up their lives for their friends and comrades within the prisons here.
Favourite Bond movie?
I can’t stand Bond movies!
Favourite Doctor Who?
Sylvester McCoy, haven’t watched any of the new ones.
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
AC/DC and I’m going to see them in
In terms of visiting for the weekend, Dublin, Belfast, or Newry?
Favourite national newspaper?
An Phoblacht (Sinn Féin weekly) – a totally unbiased choice of course!
What would you say your hobbies were?
And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books
(Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
Songs - Ordinary Man – Christy Moore,
Books - The Ragged Trousered Thilanthropists – Robert Tressle, The Motorcycle Diaries – Che Guevera, Ten Men Dead – David Beresford.