“The changes are actually happening societally. The majority of the Unionist electorate would be socially liberal and certainly for me it’s all about trying to get Unionist parties to be more reflective of society. My own party doesn’t have any women in the (Northern Ireland) assembly and that is something we do need to address, and we need more young Unionists and more LGBT.”
Today I’m joined by Michael Palmer. Originally from Newtownards in Northern Ireland, Michael is a liberally minded Unionist and a member of the LGBT community. Michael is also an active member of the Ulster Unionist Party. I came across Michael on Twitter and admired his courage in standing up against the many ultra conservative factions in Northern Ireland who would see his views very negatively. I was keen to have him as a guest as I was interested in hearing his views on the future of Northern Ireland and, more importantly, in listening to Michael away from the political sphere so I hope you are sitting comfortably and happy to stay with us.
We started our conversation with me asking Michael about his recent Tweet about the Unionist community needing to modernise and reach out (00:14), before chatting about his party, the UUP, and the political makeup of Northern Ireland (02:18). Next we talked about Michael’s childhood in Newtownards (05:11), his love of weightlifting (06:35), and his time at university (08:03). I then asked Michael about experiences as a member of the LGBT community (09:40), what his views are on the future of the Northern Ireland political system, and the LGBT community (11:23). On the other side of the episode, we discussed what his view of a good relationship on the island of Ireland would look like (18:02), Scottish independence (24:25), and dealing with online abuse as a result of his political and personal views (33:25). Before we finished up, I asked Michael what peeks his interest in books and TV at the moment (34:35).