UUP need more than rhetoric to be inclusive, says Armstrong

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said UUP Leader Robin Swann needs to realise being inclusive and moderate will be demonstrated from policies and actions, not words and rhetoric.

She was speaking in response to comments made by Mr Swann in his Leader’s Speech to the UUP Conference.

Kellie Armstrong said: “Alliance welcomes all contributions towards building a more shared and inclusive Northern Ireland. All political parties and other stakeholders should be working For Everyone.

“While their new leader claims Unionism can be embracing and that his party will be a voice for moderation, this rhetoric belies the approach adopted by the party especially in recent months, in which they have sought to scaremonger around the Irish Language and to even outflank the position of the DUP in that respect,

“The UUP need to recognise how divisive the situation has been in recent months – and the part they have played.

“They have also argued against the further development of integrated education, and not adopted a clear and unambiguous position around a range or equality issues.

“Moreover, they have failed to stand up for a Northern Ireland solution in the context of Brexit, something that Alliance has already demonstrated can be fully consistent with Northern Ireland’s current constitutional position and the Principle of Consent.

“Any party can’t just become a moderate just through declaring as such. It is action and policy that determines recognition as such. Indeed, the UUP have not sought to abandon their previous positions that contradict their own language, and if anything reinforced them at their conference.

“Northern Ireland is now going through a period of major political crisis and uncertainty. Divisions in our society are widening. More than ever, we need parties such as the UUP to genuinely act in the interests of the whole community – something they can do while preserving their own identity and constitutional aspirations.”

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