Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Interview with James Shiels, Councillor for Carntogher

Pearl of Tyburn:  I’m now going to speak with Councillor James Shiels from Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Mr. Shiels, how are you?

James Shiels:  Fine, thanks.

P.T.:  Could you tell me a bit about your family background?

J.S.:   My forefathers were Presbyterians with Scottish roots, and as tenant farmers on a tiny bit of land near Carmtogher Mountain they tilled the ground in order to survive. It was a hard life, and when the industrial revolution came they, like many others in the area, took a chance for a better life and at the end of the 19th century moved here to Upperlands to find work in the Linen Mill.

Working six days a week for little pay, in a heavily class based society, they endured some of the most difficult and tumultuous periods in Ulster's history - the Home Rule period and the Great War - yet managed to remain hopeful that life could get better for everyone in our community regardless of their creed or class.

It's thanks to the risks they took, in pursuit for a better way of life that has meant that I, a working class lad from a little linen village, could become the unionist councillor for the entire area of Carntogher.

P.T.:  What political party are you affiliated with, and what identities do you see yourself as having?

J.S.:  I was recently elected as the sole Unionist Councillor for Carntogher DEA in the new Mid Ulster Council. As a member of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) I'm part of the largest unionist party in Mid Ulster, and at 24 I am one of the youngest elected politicians in Northern Ireland.

I am also heavily involved with Loyal Orders and am a committed Christian. On a nationality front I am unashamedly an Ulsterman, and proud of my British identity.

P.T.:  What are your thoughts on the Scottish independence movement and referendum?

J.S.:  I am totally opposed to Scottish independence as I believe that we really are better together in a United Kingdom because without our Scottish neighbours we (the UK) would be a smaller nation, with a smaller economy and a diminished standing on the world stage. That means less power, less influence and less voice in the key discussions concerning our people in the European Parliament.

P.T.:  How do you think the Scots themselves might be affected by this?

J.S.:  For the Scots themselves, questions must be asked in regards to how their country will function if they choose independence. Will they get to keep Sterling, or choose the Euro? What effect will that have on their ratepayers and businesses? What will happen to UK military and naval bases on Scottish soil? Etc, etc.

These are the sorts of questions that need answering, and when they are, I am sure the good people of Scotland will realise that they, and indeed all of us, are better remaining together as part of a strong United Kingdom.

P.T.:  How would you compare and contrast Scottish Nationalists with Irish Nationalists?

J.S.:  Scottish nationalism is primarily civic, and has focused quite rightly on their goal of an Independent Scotland. Irish nationalism on the other hand is ethnic and has time and again been hijacked by both religious and republican groups. This had lead to a situation where in Scotland independence is an open issue, but here in Northern Ireland it is a polarizing issue totally opposed by the majority of people.

P.T.:  Thanks so much for your time, Councillor Shiels.

J.S.:  A pleasure.

No comments:

Post a Comment