The Alliance Party’s youth wing has described Ulster Unionist attempts to sell their link up with representatives of active gangsters as “delusional”.
Speaking prior to a meeting of the re-formed Queen’s University Alliance Society, Chair Cllr Ian James Parsley said: “The Alliance Party has a proud record of taking risks to try to move people away from paramilitarism. We have done so often at great personal sacrifice. But we have always done so for the good of the whole community, not just false tactical gains for our own party. And we have always done so while putting the interests of victims first.
“We all know that another party prefers instead to link up directly with representatives of active gangsters for ‘tactical’ reasons. Then it realizes how badly that one is playing and claims it is for ‘strategic’
reasons. Then it realizes how badly that one is playing too, and claims that it is the only party doing anything. Utter blaffum!
“Let me tell you something, one of the first things I did post-election last year was become involved with a community relations group seeking to find ways to move young men away from paramilitarism while remaining within their community. There were no Unionists in sight – because, they claimed, they ‘don’t have anything to do with paramilitaries’. How the story changes…
“People aren’t kidded by Ulster Unionists’ delusional backtracking – not even their own members. Who would believe that the ‘middle-aged’ Alliance Party would have more than twice as many elected representatives at youth level than the Ulster Unionists?
“Young people don’t want to know about apologists for gangsterism or excuses for dodgy link-ups. They want to be sure that their representatives will put the work in to move people away from paramilitarism – but also that they will put the democrat before the gangster, the victim before the terrorist, and the decent before the indecent.
“We in Young Alliance, the Queen’s Alliance Society, and our friends in the other anti-sectarian parties will continue to aspire to the politics of hope, not the politics of exasperation.”