Alliance leader David Ford has responded to the suggestion by Roy Beggs
that Alliance voters should back the UUP against the DUP by denying that
the UUP belongs to ‘the centre ground’.
David Ford said:
“Mr Beggs has clearly listened to part of what I said on BBC TV, but he
didn’t get the message.
“It is entirely realistic for Alliance campaigners across much of Northern
Ireland to concentrate on winning Council seats. In two thirds of the
region, we are targeting seats to win.
“But I never said we were only interested in Council votes and we will be
seeking to maximise the Alliance vote for Westminster too. Only an
Alliance vote is an unambiguous vote for centre-ground partnership.
“In 2001, there were signs that the UUP and SDLP were starting to work
together for the good of the whole region. Alliance encouraged that, both
in the Assembly and outside it.
“Unfortunately, that is not the case now. The SDLP is chasing after a
celtic rainbow, with its greenprint for a united Ireland, and the UUP is
trying to outflank the DUP with shoddy leaflets like ‘It’s Not Fair’.
“A party that manages to insult Protestant children who do not go to
Grammar Schools, as well as Catholics and Nationalists in general, has no
claim to the centre ground and absolutely no claim to borrow Alliance
“Whatever the merits of some individual candidates, the UUP has shown
itself to be unreformable and incapable of carrying through its initial
gestures towards reform.
“If the UUP wants to be part of the centre ground, why did it ask UUP
voters to transfer to the DUP last time? Why did it seek a deal with the
DUP this time?
“I am sorry, Mr Beggs. You are either unaware of what your party is up
to, or unable to distinguish the firm centre ground from the sectarian