Belfast Alliance Councillors Naomi Long, Tom Ekin and David Alderdice have welcomed the apparent U-turn by UUP Cllr Reg Empey in his attitude to the election of Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Cllr. Alex Maskey. During a UTV Insight special, Cllr. Empey admitted that Maskey’s year in office was far from a disaster for Belfast.
In their joint statement the Councillors stated:
“It is clear from Sir Reg’s comments that he now recognises that the outrage expressed and fears whipped up by him and his Party colleagues at the Alliance Party’s decision to support Maskey were unfounded. His acknowledgement that Cllr. Maskey tried to live up to his stated objective to reach out to the whole community is a vindication of the Alliance Party’s original decision.
“Unfortunately, were we to wait for political progress to be driven by the UUP, no progress would ever occur. To their enduring shame the UUP have never been able to bring themselves to vote for the SDLP for the position of Lord Mayor in Belfast City Council preferring instead to retreat into sectarian trenches when difficult decisions are required and leave it up to Alliance to make the tough decisions.
“The skill of political leadership is not to recognise a good decision with the benefit of hindsight but to have the courage and vision to recognise the right decision to take at the time. Whilst the comments by Sir Reg Empey would suggest that he can do the former, it would appear that even he has now conceded that only Alliance is capable of the latter.”