Political Platform: David McIlveen MLA

thumb-large-4 First elected in 2011, David McIlveen is a DUP MLA for North Antrim.

He was previously an estate agent and also worked in IT. David is currently Assembly Private Secretary to Finance and Personnel Minister Simon Hamilton. David also sits on the Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee and the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

How did your interest in politics begin?

From a young age I’ve always been interested in what was going on in the world. When most of my friends were watching Play School and the like, the highlight of my viewing day was the evening news. As I got older, I became more and more aware of how world events impact on our lives here in Northern Ireland, especially growing up in a deeply divided society such as Northern Ireland was in the 1980s. I think this challenged many of my generation as to the type of future we wanted for ourselves and our families, and the role that politics played in this.

What do you count as your main achievements to date?

I think what people sometimes forget is that as an MLA you almost have two jobs.

The first one is the governmental duties that are performed at Stormont and the second the work as a representative in your constituency – the two roles are at times poles apart from each other and make the job incredibly interesting.

In Stormont, I have done a lot of work around getting young people involved and interested in business and innovation. I was responsible for an invitation to Belfast-born Stephen Myers from CERN to come to Stormont and speak to MLAs and other guests about the importance of R&D in business. This proved to be the launch pad for many more visits by Steve to schools, colleges and universities and even resulted in a collaborative project at one of our hospitals. I love to see young people excited by business and the possibilities that exist within it.

At constituency level, the issues are vast. However, one that always gets me is in relation to access to cancer drugs. There is nothing more heart-wrenching than meeting someone who is desperate to have a little longer with their loved ones if they can get the right drugs.

The feeling of relief when successful cannot be compared to anything else. This is an achievement that I hope to repeat many times.

SONY DSC How has your background in business influenced how you look at politics?

I remember that a good friend of mine who owns his own business once said that there is nothing that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning more than knowing that you are doing so to run your own business.

What I think he was getting at is that in business you are only entitled to that what you earn and give your full effort to.

This concept is ingrained in my psyche and when I meet, assist and talk to the good people of North Antrim on a daily basis I do so in the knowledge that their support for me is not an entitlement, but must be earned.

Anyone who owns their own business knows that the hours are long and that some days can be rewarding and others frustrating. Politics is no different to this, and it’s one of the many reasons I enjoy it so much.

What are your ambitions for North Antrim?

My main ambition for North Antrim is that it remains the prosperous place that it has been for many years and grows from strength to strength. North Antrim has a thriving private sector with innovative companies such as Wrightbus, Bushmills and many others.

Delivery of jobs is not just about creating headlines. High employment cuts to the very heart of what a stable society is. I don’t believe that high employment levels just creates a prosperous society but it also creates a healthy one as there are well-proven links between work and health. When I look back as an Assembly member, my main ambition will be that I left a healthier, happier more prosperous North Antrim than the one I started in.

Please outline your main priorities on the Health Committee.

More than ever our health budget – and the subsequent services the Minister can fund – is under pressure. We have a growing and ageing population with complex medical needs against a decreasing budget.

No business could fund like this, and it is therefore unfair to expect a huge department as this to do so. I believe the role of the committee should be one of supporting the Minister in his need to deliver a safe and high quality health service. The committee is cross-party therefore in doing so, it would send out a very clear message that health is above party politics.

What motivates you?

The thing that motivates me in politics is exactly the same as what motivates me and indeed every businessperson: success. I think the day that we are not results-driven is the day that we need to consider retirement or a career change. I know it’s such a cliché but I entered politics to help people, to give people a voice that they either don’t have or can’t find themselves. Business teaches you to have tenacity and I have established a reputation both in my constituency and in Stormont that I simply cannot take no for an answer.

How do you relax outside work?

Work-life balance can be a challenge but I really enjoy travelling, I am also a keen motorcyclist and where I can mix the two is like a little piece of heaven for me. I also play tennis but by far my favourite thing is spending time with family and friends. I think as I get older, such time becomes more and more precious.

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