Tackling key issues so we can all move on together – Long

Opinion piece by Naomi Long for the Irish News

Virtually everyone wants Northern Ireland to move forward.

On May 7th, Alliance is the only real choice for those interested in tackling key issues so we can all move forward together.

In 2010, people put their trust in Alliance when they voted for us to go to the House of Commons for the first time. We delivered on that opportunity, giving leadership in Parliament, providing a strong voice for progressive politics, making practical changes in legislation and putting local issues on the agenda. Now we’re asking you to put your trust in us again.

Like many others, we made pre-election promises last time. But unlike others, we kept them.

Alliance ended double-jobbing between Westminster and Stormont, while others failed to deliver.

We pledged to make politics more transparent. Not only do we publish our large donors online for everyone to see but we amended key legislation at Westminster so information for all local parties will eventually be made public.

Alliance reflects the diversity of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and political outlook in our community. Yet we are united in the belief that Northern Ireland deserves better – a truly shared society.

The overwhelmingly positive response we’ve been receiving tells us the vast majority of people want to keep moving forward with Alliance. They know having Alliance representation at Westminster is vital to build on the momentum and potential 2010 created.

The jubilation of five years ago has been dulled by the seemingly constant political crises and talks, and the lack of leadership from other parties to deliver progress on difficult issues.

Some signed up to the Stormont House Agreement before rowing back on those commitments, while others deliberately orchestrated the flag protests, which have poisoned relations between communities. This high stakes brinkmanship is placing at risk the huge progress we’ve made.

Other parties keep trying to drag us back to division and mistrust, pandering to extremes and preventing Northern Ireland becoming more stable and prosperous.

They have tried to make this election about unionist unity or the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, neither of which is at stake. The DUP have joined with the UUP, TUV and UKIP in an attempt to carve up four constituencies – removing choice from people.

By doing so, they are also attempting to divert attention from things that an MP actually can do to improve our society and people’s lives – such as addressing the funding of vital public services, creating the conditions for growing new jobs, our connectivity and place in Europe and delivering first-class constituency services to help people with their problems.

That’s why it’s all the more vital in this election to demonstrate that amidst the negativity and political entrenchment there is a fresh, progressive voice in Northern Ireland, which promotes evidence-based policies, which challenges anti-European rhetoric, which supports equality and human rights, and which fights consistently against the Government’s cuts agenda.

Alliance is that voice.

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