It is clear to me that the hypocrisy of the DUP and UUP over terrorism knows no bounds upon hearing of their proposed holiday to South Africa to discuss the future of Unionism with the political advisers and representatives of the UDA and the UVF.
For the past couple of weeks in particular, we have heard nothing but righteous indignation from the DUP’s Peter Robinson about the need to exclude terrorists from Government, and now we learn that the same man is to travel to the other side of the world for a chat with advisers to the UDA who have been involved in a bloody feud on the streets of East Belfast and North Down which has left three people dead.
The reality is that many people from throughout the community are concerned about sharing power with Sinn Fein at present due to the recent spying allegations, and for that reason Alliance was prepared to support the exclusion of that party rather than see the Assembly, which we have already saved twice, collapse. However, the news of this trip confirms the fact that the DUP is simply trying to use fears for electoral gain rather than being genuinely opposed in principle to working with those linked to terrorism.
For the Democratic Unionist Party their commitment is always to Unionism first and democracy second, no matter how much they lecture everybody else on the issue.
As a Councillor in Castlereagh this is hardly news, as for some time the DUP have preferred working with those linked to Loyalist paramilitaries rather than supporting democratic parties. For example, the DUP and UUP nominated a member of the UPRG, which advises the UDA, to serve on our Local Strategic Partnership and – incredibly – also to the local Policing Partnership Board. They did all this rather than appoint democrats from other parties.
Whatever great new vision for Unionism comes out of this jaunt, it will at least have served one useful purpose – it has highlighted to the public at large the double standards that exist in both the DUP and UUP with regards to their ability to work with politicians linked to paramilitaries.
Cllr. Michael Long
Alliance Party Councillor for Castlereagh Central