Motion: Reaffirmation of the Ministerial Pledge of Office and Code of Conduct
‘That this Assembly reaffirms the Ministerial Pledge of Office, in particular the commitment to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means; further reaffirms the Code of Conduct, in particular operating in a way conducive to promoting good community relations and equality of treatment; rejects the comments of Gerry Kelly MLA at the Castlederg IRA memorial that will give succour to dissident republican groups and help indoctrinate a new generation down the path of violence; and condemns the use of terrorist violence in the present day and past.’
[Mr Buchanan, Mr McCausland, Lord Morrow]
Stewart Dickson MLA said: “Alliance always has and always will be committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means; to equality; to the promotion of good community relations; and to a truly shared future for everyone in Northern Ireland.
“We condemn all violence, from the actions of those who murder and destroy with bombs and bullets, to those who attack our police officers with masonry, petrol bombs and ceremonial swords.
“Much could be said to highlight the hypocrisy in parts of this motion. After all, support for policing is a key part of the Pledge of Office and a requirement of every elected representative. Yet while our police officers have been attacked during riots, the focus of public comment from some members of the DUP was to criticise the police.
“This motion also talks about good community relations, yet we’ve had elected reps saying they have no problem with the burning of flags, and making other offensive comments on social media.
“Gerry Kelly comments in Castlederg, in which he described past violence as a ‘tool’ was particularly chilling, as was his apparent argument that republicans should refrain from the use of violence, not because it is wrong, but because there is now a new vision to achieve their objectives. There was no absolute commitment to non-violence, just an appeal to political strategy.
“His political labelling of Castlederg was also very concerning. No village, town or city is ‘nationalist’ or ‘unionist’ and no group has any more or less ownership of an area because of its identity. Alliance’s vision of shared space recognises that if we are to build a united community, shared space needs to go beyond town centres. We need shared neighbourhoods in the same way that we share workplaces. Representatives need to stop labelling towns and areas like territory.
“In all of these instances over the course of the summer, including a letter from America, pandering to the electorate trumped proper and effective leadership. If we are to move forward to build a united community, elected representatives cannot continue to undermine support for the police, the rule of law and community relations.
“We now need to move on, recognise the need for compromise, and set about building a united community for everyone.”