Bill Matthews questions DUP’s committment

Captain Terence O’Neill decided in the late Sixties that those Catholics who supported the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the UK should be given an opportunity to get involved in the politics of Northern Ireland.

The DUP and the bigots in the UUP who could not tolerate association with Catholics at a political level removed him from office.

The Alliance Party was formed in 1970 to continue the work started by O’Neill and sought to involve Catholics in the politics of Northern Ireland at all levels.

The late Brian Faulkner then led the post-Sunningdale power-sharing agreement, which included the UUP, the SDLP and Alliance. This was overthrown by those who had destroyed O’Neill.

The present Good Friday Agreement guarantees the position of Northern Ireland within the UK as long as a majority here so decide in a referendum.

Is this not enough for the pro-union people, or are the DUP and anti-Agreement people still objecting to sharing political power with Catholics?

If the Agreement is overthrown, the most likely replacement is a return to Direct Rule or Joint Dublin-Westminster rule.

The policy of Alliance is based on inclusivity of all parties, dependent on their democratic strength and this is also the policy of the political process of which we are a part.

We believe that Sinn Fein is moving on a road towards normal democratic politics, therefore Alliance councillors on Belfast City Council had little alternative but to support Alex Maskey for the post of Lord Mayor. In doing so they have delivered to him a simple message:

“You say you want to be inclusive; a mayor for the whole city. Now it is up to you to prove it.”

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