Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Words on Wednesday...with Trevor Lunn MLA

Welcome to this week's edition of Words on Wednesday, a concept unique to the Irish blogosphere, which sees me interview various figures from all walks of political life. Taking my questions this week is Alliance Party MLA for Lagan Valley, Trevor Lunn.

My sincere thanks to Mr Lunn for taking my questions. So then let's begin...

You are an Alliance Party MLA for Lagan Valley. Talk us through a typical day in your life.

Monday and Tuesday, plenary sessions in Stormont plus questions to ministers. Wednesday, in constituency. Thursday, public accounts committee. Friday, education committee.

I also have duties as a Lisburn councillor in terms of economic development, corporate services and planning committees and am a member of the district policing partnership. As a result I don't really have typical days they are all different.

What made you decide to get involved with the Alliance Party?

I decided to get involved in politics in 1993. None of the other parties had any appeal for me. I saw Alliance values and attitudes as the only way forward.

Many political commentators predicted you would struggle to hold on to the seat that the Alliance Party held in Lagan Valley during the Assembly election, yet you managed to do precisely that. Were you surprised by your election result?

Maybe as the sitting Mayor of Lisburn I had the benefit of extra profile, but there is a solid Alliance vote here so I was reasonably confident.

What are some of the main issues that you are dealing with at present in your Lagan Valley constituency?

Maze stadium, retention of Lagan valley hospital, John Lewis, decline of city centre.

What are your thoughts on Ian Paisley stepping down as NI's First Minister and do you think Peter Robinson will do a good job in his place?

I have a longstanding liking personally for Doctor Paisley but it is time for him to go and Peter will do an efficient job if he takes it.

On a similar note what are your thoughts on Bertie Ahern stepping down as Taoiseach and do you think Brian Cowen will prove a good successor?

Bertie was good for Ireland and for the peace process but chickens tend to come home to roost and he made a wise decision. Brian is a very capable replacement but people said that about Gordon Brown did they not? People skills help.

I read a report in the News Letter in which you accused the DUP of delaying tactics and of using the Maze stadium row as a political football. How should this matter be resolved in your opinion?

By an early decision to proceed at the maze. No amount of DUP bluster can cover the fact that some of them are terrified at the thought of the conflict transformation centre. They are totally split on the issue and it has nothing to do with cost.

You served as Mayor of Lisburn for a year from 2006-07. How would you rate that experience?

Best year of my life despite the heart attack. I hope I brought the mayorship to places and people who had never encountered it before. Great to have brought President McAleese to Lisburn even if most of the DUP didn't turn up. They missed a wonderful occasion.

There was a recent Panorama programme on BBC which suggested that sectarianism remains a major problem in many parts of NI. They cited an area of North Belfast where there are two bus stops about 100 metres apart, but one is used by Catholics and the other by Protestants. What needs to be done in your view to bring an end to this kind of segregation?

Didn't see the programme but the problems remain. It will be a slow process but hearts and minds can be changed and there is a lot of cross community work going on unpublicised.

What are your thoughts on a united Ireland and will it ever occur in your opinion?

It isn't a big issue to me but as things stand I would vote for the status quo. I don't think its inevitable but hey we are all Europeans now!

The Lisbon Treaty is a big issue for the European Union right now. Are you disappointed that UK citizens have not been given a referendum on the matter by Gordon Brown?

If he did they would reject it so he won't. That's politics.

What does the future hold in store for the Alliance Party?

We still have a major role to play and we wont go away you know. Stormont needs an opposition and NI needs centre ground, non-sectarian politics. That's us.

What does the future hold in store for you?

Not ready for going out to pasture yet. Hope to do at least a second term and stay with council if the rules allow. Things look good for NI and the Republic. I want to stay involved.

Finally I'd like to play a small round of word association. I'm sure you know what it entails. Basically just outline what word comes into your head when you hear the following:

Ian Paisley - history
Bertie Ahern - fly
Martin McGuinness - surprising
Peter Robinson - clever
David Ford - excellent
Sinn Féin - bearable
DUP - sanctimonious
Alliance Party - brave
Lagan Valley - home
Trevor Lunn - lucky

Thank you for your time, Mr Lunn. All the best for the future.

Stay tuned to United Irelander for future interviews.

Previous interviews can be found


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