UUP officer Johnny Andrews takes a swipe at the Tele for not covering ‘bread and butter’ issues and argues that the Ulster Unionists are up to the challenge of delivering a “united, peaceful and tolerant society”. He was responding to an article by Lindy McDowell, in which she wondered where the UUP has been since Sir Reg took over the party.Andrews argues the UUP must sell the benefits of the Union to a more diverse Northern Ireland:
It is no longer good enough to simply maintain the Union, we must engage with our fellow citizens in Great Britain and promote and strengthen the Union.
While we ensured that the Union is more secure than ever, it is important we sell the benefits of it to new voters coming here from the enlarged EU and the growing army of non-voters.
Unionists must reach out to the new and changing ethnic mix in the voting population and sell the benefits of the Union. It is only under the Union that our social, cultural and human rights can be protected and fostered.
It is only the UUP that can deliver a united workable Northern Ireland because we understand that a sectarian carve-up is not an answer. Our biggest challenge is to create a united, peaceful and tolerant society. A truly civic society in line with other modern democracies.
Our competitors thrive on emotional rhetoric and scare tactics. They create the continual polarisation of politics that leads to endless circularity and negative argument. Now they are playing catch-up, ideologically they are back where we were in 1996.
While they posture and try and find some way of squaring their circle of promising to stop concessions and tough talking with the political realities that the lead party in unionism must face up to, Northern Ireland continues to suffer under Direct Rule.
Journalists and critics like Lindy McDowell have a choice. They can either take pot-shots at how bad our politicians and politics are without offering any insight or solutions or they can start responding to our lead and focusing not only on big picture politics but also on the things that matter to everyone – including politicians – like health, education, crime, poverty and the economy. We have families too you know!
We need a proper debate on these issues but we can’t do it if the media don’t care or take editorial decisions not to cover our news conferences or media material.