East Belfast Alliance Westminster candidate, Cllr Naomi Long MLA, has hit out at Sir Reg Empey’s claim to be in favour of “working together” and
“rebuilding from the centre”, stating that it is “in stark contrast” to his record.
Naomi Long said, “Sir Reg’s revisionist approach to his record and that of his party will cut no ice with anyone. He is consistent only saying one
thing and doing another.
“Whilst he says the DUP are “divisive” and “extremist”, he is part of aUUP leadership currently actively seeking an electoral pact with the DUP across Northern Ireland.
“Whilst he says he wants people to ‘rebuild from the centre’, he and his Party leader actively encouraged people at the Assembly Elections to
transfer to the DUP, rather than to other pro-Agreement parties and his UUP colleagues in Castlereagh have bolstered that DUP-run regime, in
return for positions and trinkets, rather than choosing to work with Alliance and others to actually build the centre.
“Whilst he says ‘we will achieve more by working together’, when he had the opportunity actually do it in the last Assembly, he invested his energy instead in undermining his own Party leader, siding instead with the anti-agreement wing of his Party to help destabilise the Agreement.
“Whilst he says he wants ‘a united Northern Ireland’, he and his colleagues have criticised, amongst other things, moves to control provocative and triumphalist displays of flags and symbols, which are aimed at creating shared space, and have issued baldly sectarian leaflets in the run up to these elections, such as the ‘It’s not fair’ whinge-fest, which have sought to further divide people into tribal camps.
“Whilst he claims that he doesn’t want to see ‘each section of the community operating separately, with its own leaders’, his personal record in Belfast City Hall, where he and his Party have consistently failed to show even the tiny amount of leadership, courage and vision required to vote in favour of any nationalist for Lord Mayor of Belfast, says more about the real Sir Reg than any air-brushed statement from his Party’s press office ever could.
“The problem with Sir Reg’s new-found interest in championing the centre is that he has spent so much of his political career flirting with the extremes, whether in Vanguard, pacts with the DUP or within his own Party, that he clearly doesn’t even know where the centre ground is.
“If people want to rebuild the centre, the only way to do so is to vote for Alliance — our consistency and determination in occupying and
defending the centre ground is in stark contrast to the inconsistency and double-speak of Sir Reg and the UUP.”