Young Alliance Chair Ian James Parsley has said that most Young Unionists will be alarmed by their party’s slippage towards direct links with paramilitarism — and said that Young Alliance will welcome those seeking an alternative.
After it was confirmed the PUP’s David Ervine would join the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group, the North Down Councillor stated: “Most Young Unionists I know will be appalled by their party’s allowing a representative directly linked to active paramilitaries into their party group. Is this what they meant by an ‘inclusive Northern Ireland’?”
“Most did not want a member of the Ulster Political Research Group sharing a council team, most wanted the blame for Loyalist rioting to be pinned on the rioters not the police, and certainly most do not want any direct link to parties affiliated to supporters of gangsterism and mayhem. Is this how you achieve an ‘inclusive Northern Ireland’?
“Yet members of the Ulster Unionist Party have allowed all these things — and are now tainted by a link to active paramilitarism.”
“Most Young Unionists, in common with most young people in Northern Ireland, are committed to a future where young people grow up free of gangsterism, where people make political points exclusively democratically, and where engagement with past paramilitaries happens only to encourage them along the peaceful path rather than for political expediency. They now know that Ulster Unionism does not offer them a political home, as it is prepared to accept violence and mayhem within its ranks on the grounds of breathtaking sectarian hypocrisy. Is this what they envisaged by an ‘inclusive Northern Ireland’?
“There is an alternative. Those who want a political home dedicated to a liberal and democratic future in an ‘inclusive Northern Ireland’ untainted by paramilitarism will find a warm welcome waiting for them in Young Alliance.”