UUP and SDLP to regret rejecting Opposition..?

DAVY Adams thinks the UUP and SDLP should go into Opposition – as did a few Slugger readers. Newton Emerson satirises the UUP rejection of a request to join the new ‘United Community’ opposition group in the Assembly, pointing out that the party is “apparently unaware that next time around they might not be worth the bother of asking. Could the UUP now become the first political party in history to fail to get into opposition?” He also notes that an SDLP minister will become a handy scapegoat for the big boys.On the future Executive, David Adams wrote:

Whether or not future DUP and Sinn Féin ministers will be able to form friendly relationships is of no consequence.

Both parties will appreciate that, once partnership is entered into, it will be in their joint interest to ensure it doesn’t fail. Full knowledge of the electoral price of collapse will be enough to ensure that pragmatic working relationships are soon established.

Indeed, it is a matter of concern for some that Sinn Féin and the DUP might find that they have far more in common than previously imagined.

It is the original champions of a devolved powersharing Assembly, the SDLP and the UUP, who have real cause to be concerned about what the future holds.

Both of those parties are entitled to take seats in an executive (one SDLP and two UUP), though it is hardly in either of their long-term interests to avail of the opportunity.

A new administration will be able, at least in its first term, to indulge the electorate. But it is only the two major parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin, who will receive the plaudits. The SDLP and UUP will certainly have some minimal influence on collective decision-making but cannot hope to be credited with any notable achievements. Indeed, there is no escaping the fact that, to the public at least, it is Sinn Féin and the DUP who will constitute the executive.

Rather than clinging to the coat-tails of the two main parties in the faint hope of benefiting from reflected glory, it would be much better for the UUP and SDLP if they relinquished their claims to office and went into opposition.

From the opposition benches and in various Assembly committees, both parties could play a far more constructive role by seeking to hold the new administration to account. Instead of allowing themselves to be overshadowed to the point where they become mere pale imitations of the two larger parties, an oppositional role would help the SDLP and UUP reclaim their own identities with the electorate.

More importantly, by helping to put both a working government and a meaningful opposition in place, they would be creating an Assembly that bears more than just a passing resemblance to an elected legislature in a normal, liberal democracy.

Newt wrote:

So farewell then to the Ulster Unionist Party, which incredibly appears to require one more kick up the backside to appreciate the scale of its problem, yet which has now passed the point where it can possibly survive one more kick up the backside. Party grandees grandly rejected an invitation to join the new ‘United Community’ grouping in the assembly, apparently unaware that next time around they might not be worth the bother of asking. Could the UUP now become the first political party in history to fail to get into opposition?

***

The SDLP has an even better reason to avoid a Stormont executive. With only enough MLAs to nominate a single minister, the Stoops can do little more than provide everyone else with a useful fall-guy.

Warning signs are not hard to discern. According to recent press statements from both Sinn Féin and the DUP, Mark Durkan was solely responsible for introducing water charging while finance minister in the last assembly.

If Sinn Féin and DUP memories are that imaginative, they won’t have any trouble blaming a lone SDLP minister for everything that goes wrong in the next assembly.

  • Henry94

    People voted for the SDLP and the UUP on the understanding that they would take their seats on the executive.

    I don’t think it is a realistic option not to do so having given no indication to the voters that it would be considered.

  • smcgiff

    All the SDLP and the UUP have to do is look to the Republic where we’ve a far longer history of PR voting. It is the exception rather than the rule that the government gets voted back in.

    The ONLY way the SDLP and the UUP to claw back votes is to go into opposition. You can claw back votes from effective opposition.

    Certianly, the last thing the UUP need to do is take Health.

  • smcgiff

    ‘I don’t think it is a realistic option not to do so having given no indication to the voters that it would be considered.’

    Well, it the SDLP and the UUP need any further proof that they need to go into opposition is a SF supporter saying they should go into government. 🙂

  • smcgiff

    IF the SDLP…

    (serves me right watching the TV, talking to my wife and typing – walking and chewing gum is next task)

  • Spinster

    SFDUP have their origins in street politics, disrupting every attempt at a settlement done without them. They deserve eachother. The centre parties cannot deprive us of this moment, it is too ironic to pass up. SDLPUUP must let us see the politics we had to wait a generation for, or let SFDUP show us reasons to throw them back onto the street.

  • Ian

    Who would take the Justice Ministry in May 2008 if the UUP and SDLP exclude themselves?

  • Pete Baker

    You’re jumping ahead of yourself, Ian.. May 2008 being only a target date.

  • Joseph

    I think henry is right to point out that people voted for the SDLP/UUP, on the understanding that they would take their seats.

    I do however think it is fair for that any party be allowed the freedom to adapt to the changing political situation here. Not merely for their own selfish, party interest (least of all that in fact)but in favour of the fairest reprsentation.

    I believe it is time to review the allocation of seats under d’Hondt. More departments may give UUP/SDLP a better party position but I feel this would be wrong.

    Six departments is enough for the administration of 2 million people; leaving an inclusive government.

  • Ian

    “You’re jumping ahead of yourself, Ian.. May 2008 being only a target date.”

    May 2008 being a massive potential roadblock that everybody can see coming. The DUP were supposed to be about achieving STABLE devolution, indeed it’s in their interests to make sure devolution in NI is lasting and workable. Ignoring the elephant one year down the road is not in Unionism’s interests.

  • Pete Baker

    It is a potential roadblock, Ian, put in place by Sinn Féin.

  • GavBelfast

    “People voted for the SDLP and the UUP on the understanding that they would take their seats on the executive.

    I don’t think it is a realistic option not to do so having given no indication to the voters that it would be considered.”

    The Tories and Labour, or FF and FG, never go to the electorate on the basis of going into oposition, either, but there’s a good chance it will happen, and always does to one each of them.

    The UUP and SDLP should be seriously considering this, rather than being bit-part players. They can do more good out than in, and certainly have more impact. In fact, they moght even contribute to a better administation all round.

  • kensei

    “It is a potential roadblock, Ian, put in place by Sinn Féin.”

    Clever putting it there really, when it is what they want, no?

  • John East Belfast

    Can somebody tell me why the 16 non Executive UUP Members cannot “Oppose” at every oportunity the other non UUP Ministers ?

    The GFA was about Power Sharing – not Majority Rule of the biggest Unionist and Nationalist Parties.
    We have deliberately carved power up and now that we have done that people are saying let’s throw that all away and re-write the Rules.

    The comments by Henry 94 re what we said we would do Pr Election are spot on – one minute people are telling us we didnt stick to our election manifesto and the next they are telling us to take a fundamental policy change without having told the electorate – many unionists would have felt that if the UUP were going to behave like the Alliance Party post election then they may have well cast a vote for the AP.

    The reason the Alliance and Greens are forming this Opposition is because they dont have any Ministries. Do you think the pioneers of power sharing would relinquish a Ministry if they had earned one ?

    Just because the DUP/SF/UUP & SDLP have joined each other in a Power Sharing arrangement does not mean every member of those parties now has to act like Government back benchers and toe some kind of collective Party Line – there isnt one – unless those 4 parties reach some ongoing arrangements on major policies.

    The parties disagree on a range of policies and you wont see the UUP and DUP supporting the SF/SDLP line on Education just because the Ministry isheld by the latter.

    The UUP should take their Mnistries and illustrate that they can be bloody good at the business of Government – meanwhile the other MLAs can hold to account the policies of the other Ministers – best of both worlds and what is wrong with that ?

    The alternative is to give all the power to SF and DUP and then appear as total sour pussed whingers on the back benches hoping that every policy fails.

    However as a party who believe in the success of Northern ireland and the Union championing its downfall would not come easy to us.
    David Cameron has learned that lesson in the Tory v Labour debate but he still doesnt have the opportunity to get his hands on the levers of power and show – for instance – the Tories could do a better job in the Home Office .

  • Danny O’Connor

    I am of the opinion that the sdlp and uup should take their committee chairs but not their ministerial portfolios.One argument is that they would be the cement to bind the executive together-enough of a reason not to.Taking the moral high ground is leading to the danger of both parties being in danger of complete electoral melt down.Let the dup & sinn fein take their ministries and let us all see what they make of them.Look at the way that the tories are using opposition as setting themselves as a viable alternative to new labour,when,just a couple of years ago they were in deep trouble.A period in a constructive opposition would allow both parties the time and space to provide real alternatives to a current executive, they could not be held to account for the undoubted mistakes that will be made.

  • Henry94

    GavBelfast

    The Tories and Labour, or FF and FG, never go to the electorate on the basis of going into oposition, either, but there’s a good chance it will happen, and always does to one each of them.

    Different systems. It would be legitimate to say we will only go into government if we get two or three seats in the executive. But they didn’t. To do so now would look like sour grapes. And a normal opposition says we would change things if we were in there. If it could go in there and won’t it would have responsibility without power. How can you attack a minister who is only there because you won’t take the job?

  • Ian

    Pete B:

    “It is a potential roadblock, Ian, put in place by Sinn Féin.”

    Who stands to lose out most if the NI Assembly collapses in a year’s time?

    Anyone would think it was Sinn Fein who are striving to convince the NI electorate that the six counties are a viable political entity.

  • Craig

    a little OT here, but I was wondering if there are any NORMAL areas around belfast? I mean where life resemebles the rest of us in the isles? I’m no republican nor unionist but I’m planning a move to NI next year to finish up my studies…starting to wonder if its a good idea. don’t wanna go to the local chippie on a friday night and get stabbed in the face for my southern accent

  • Tkmaxx

    The SDLP and the UUP but particularly the former asked for a stronger hand in any future Executive and that was their proposition to the electorate for going into Government. The electorate rejected that proposition so they are not obliged to form part of an Executive. I doubt if the SDLP will opt for opposition but it should certainly be considered. This is not a decison to rush.

  • Rubicon

    Henry – I understand your point – but no party is bound to take a ministerial seat, the GFA does not require it – except perhaps for those entitled to the FM and DFM positions). The GFA allows for a party nominating a minister during d’Hondt to refuse to nominate. It is no offensive to the GFA to exercise that option. It would be for the larger parties since a refusal to occupy the FM or DFM posts would collapse the Assembly.

    Ian – I don’t see electing to go in to opposition in any way ties SDLP or UUP hands in the event of criminal justice being devolved (May ’08?). When this occurs the nomination mechanism will need revised since re-running d’Hondt would put the portfolio(s?) in DUP/SF hands. It is this (and other) required revisions that will no doubt occupy the Assembly’s new committee on Institutions.

    It is a pity that parties not wishing to make a ministerial nomination cannot instead nominate a Committee Chair. Doing so would better equip parties wishing to enter opposition.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Craig, there are some areas which are relatively free of anti-social uncivilized spides. Stranmillis/Malone is the obvious area but that’s particularly expensive. Old Bolsheviks such as myself get along fine in Whiteabbey, where there are plenty of other people from the free state around.

    John EB:

    The reason the Alliance and Greens are forming this Opposition is because they dont have any Ministries. Do you think the pioneers of power sharing would relinquish a Ministry if they had earned one ?

    If the centre opposition were in a position to get a ministry I’d still be advocating that they don’t take it. The mechanism for allocating ministries is broken and needs to be fixed.

    The UUP should take their Mnistries and illustrate that they can be bloody good at the business of Government – meanwhile the other MLAs can hold to account the policies of the other Ministers – best of both worlds and what is wrong with that ?

    John, the UUP and the SDLP are going to get the short end of the stick. SF and the DUP will take the cream of the ministries – finance, social development, etc. You’re going to have to go to a DUP or SF Finance Minister and beg for money to fund whatever little department they give you. What motivation do they have to ensure that you are properly funded ?

  • Henry94

    Another problem with the idea is that it is impossible to imagine the DUP agreeing to power-sharing if the UUP stay out.

  • Crataegus

    The SDLP and the UUP should give the concept of opposition serious consideration.

    The arguement that their brilliance will shine through is at best optimistic and to say that they should not because the system will ensure a similar government next time round is not a justification for joining in, but an indictment of the structures we are stuck with.

    If the SDLP and UUP want to struggle to establish clear identities then join the executive, but consider first some of the decisions that are likely in the near future. Also consider the possibility of fundamental disagreement between the DUP and SF.

  • Crataegus

    Henry

    Another problem with the idea is that it is impossible to imagine the DUP agreeing to power-sharing if the UUP stay out.

    That is a problem for the DUP and one they and they alone need to face. From a UUP point of view so what?

    If only the extremes can deliver, let them. It is time these two parties faced the consequence of what they have created.

  • J Kelly

    The problem for the SDLP is that it seems they are dammed if they do and dammed if they dont. If they go into the executive it causes more internal problems that it cures. The big question who is the minister. Durkan, McDonnell or Ritchie they will be pinning their Westminster hopes on a Minister. A rough ride and they could lose a seat. If McD doesn’t get it will he challenge for the leadership. Durkan will be considering all of these alongside how does he explain that the party who always wanted powershring not accepting the wishes of the electorate. The can’t attempt to take the ball and walk home because they don’t own the ball anymore.

    I honestly believe that for the SDLP to be a significant player in the future they have two options a merger with a bigger party in the south or a new leader and attempt to swallow up the middle ground of Alliance, UUP and what remains of their own vote.

    The Ulster Unionist I believe are gone beyond repair and will take their seats as they have no options open to them.

  • Yokel

    Reg is under serious P over this issue at the moment from within though whether its being used a thin end of a wedge to get him out or it is the sole issue is hard to define.

    No idea what the story is with Durkan, I suspect he’s under less but maybe someone close to the SDLP can tell us.

  • circles

    How could the Ulster Unionist Party have joined the “United Community” anyway? Surely this grouping has said that it is neither Unionist or Nationalist.

  • As I was reading through the rest of Newt’s column, I found myself thinking, “If Newton is going to sleg off the DUP for not being able to spell ‘poll’, he’d better be damn sure that he can spell ‘Salzburg'”.

  • Terry Doherty

    Durkan is under pressure in Derry and has to be pulling his hair out at the result here. After deselecting Mary Bradley and trying to oust Pat Ramsey with the inclusion of Gerry Diver and Helen Quigley he has managed to get the worst of all worlds.

    Pat Ramsey hardly speaks to Durkan and yet the open contempt he has for the party leader goes unchecked because time and time again he wins out against the heavily stacked odds (stacked by Mark) to triumph. And hats off to him this time, coming in ahead of Durkan’s golden child, Mayor Quigley.

    Then to top it off Mary Bradley also pips the Mayor to the post and the two MLAs Durkan didn’t want he gets. One he hardly speaks to and the other he tried to deselect. Some leadership there, I can hear the Belfast vultures muttering.

    And that’s only in the SDLP bastion of Foyle where they did very well. God knows what they’re saying in West Tyrone, where the Derry Journals Onlooker columnist has a spiteful wee snippet from the count where one SDLP stalwart is publicly delighted that Dr Deehan isn’t getting elected. With friends like that, you really need good leadership.

  • GavBelfast

    “Different systems.”

    Hi, Henry – yes, I’m not that daft!

    “It would be legitimate to say we will only go into government if we get two or three seats in the executive. But they didn’t.”

    They could hardly have done that, that would have pissed-off the electorate.

    “Another problem with the idea is that it is impossible to imagine the DUP agreeing to power-sharing if the UUP stay out.”

    After all the DUP spin about ‘pushover unionism’, etc, that would be highly ironic.

    The DUP and SF have successfully sold to the electorate a panacea of two big, strong blocks – their own. It should be tempting for the SDLP and UUP to leave them to it.

  • Ian

    I agree Terry D

    It appears that there is a large element of favouritism within the leadership of the stoops and that has reflected heavily on the election results. If they had simply allowed their membership to select the candidates based on who they thought would be the best person and a vote winner then there would certainly have been a better result. The problem this time has been that the leadership chose who was going to put themselves forward for selection and had their own ideas about who would get selected and if they didnt get selected they were able to put them forward anyway.

    Their choices have been wrong – look at Derry – Pat Ramsey and Mary Bradley triumphed despite the efforts of Durkan and Quigley – just goes to show that the electorate know who to vote for – same with Haughey in Armagh – the electorate chose to vote for the shinners despite the efforts of the leadership – in West Tyrone they lost the seat simply to keep Mc Menamin happy. In East Antrim they might have won the seat had they chosen a candidate who was interested and who would work hard for it and who would win votes. In other areas they were forced to choose good candidates as “also rans” only instead of giving them a chance to win the seat – they wanted a particular person and if you werent that person u were screwed! They didnt seem to think about what the electorate wanted.

    Their only options now are to go into opposition and merge with a Southern party and provide a real challenge to Sinn Fein.

  • Terry Doherty

    I cannot see the SDLP going into opposition. It just goes against everything they claim to stand for. Their whole campaign was about delivery. They cann’t do that hurling from the ditch.

    As to the merger with a southern party you are left asking who would want them and what would they do with them? And since we had FF, FG and Labour campaigning for them in the last couple of elections who would the SDLP membership prefer?

    So we’re probably left with more of the same. Poor leadership being constantly sniped at from all sides as Durkan tries to modernise and restructure a party that continues to implode, in a nice, slow, middle class, respectable sort of way.

  • Yokel

    Are there any cheerleaders within the SDLP for the opposition approach?

    We’ve seen a couple of UU’s publically say it but a nice UU person that I know through his wife tells me there are a few more fairly hefty figures in private who are lobbying that it should at least be considered in debate.

  • SuperSoupy

    Yokel,

    Tom Kelly is saying it should be considered earlier in the comments.

  • IJP

    Ian et al,

    Far be it from me to advise other parties, but a helpful hint: after AP’s near-death experience in 2003, we did not change Leader.

    JEB

    As Comrade says, I think it highly unlikely that Alliance would have taken a Ministry had 7 seats been enough.

    Certainly, I was strongly opposed.

    If the sectional-interest parties reckon power-dividing can work as a form of government, let them try and prove it.

  • Henry94

    Gav

    It should be tempting for the SDLP and UUP to leave them to it.

    I can certainly understand the temptation. I just think like most temptation it leads you to harm rather than good.

    IJP

    Good point about the leadership. It’s certainly not the SDLP’s problem. Mark Durkan is quite popular.

  • Yokel

    Is he any good though Henry?

  • Henry94

    Yokel

    As the fellow said when someone asked, “How’s the wife?”

    “Compared to what?”

  • Ian

    Mark Durkan is a good leader – he has proven himself this past few years and in particular this election.

    I always hate the way the media say that a leader should resign in a party doesnt do well at the polls – it isnt totally their fault – sometimes the odds are simply stacked up against them and in the case of the SLP this is fact – they are up against the rise of Sinn Fein and nothing else and up against the fact that people still keep comparing Mark to John Hume!

    Wait another few years and the same thing will happen when Gerry and Ian are no longer leaders – you can be rest assured that their parties will lose support and whoever takes the poison chalice after them will have a hard act to follow and may well lack full support from their electorate.

    Mark needs to be given the chance to have electoral success during his leadership and the only way to do this is to think long and hard about what the electorate want done for them in order for them to vote a particular party and which potential people within the party will win votes. The party as a whole need to change their attitudes and favouritism and think about what the electorate want – not what they want cos the two seem to differ at the minute.

  • circles

    Read the Newts piece and am still nonee wiser. Any enlightenment on the question at to whether or not the UUP were actually invd to join the “United Community”? If so, by whom? And what the repercussions have been on the whole alignment issue? Would it also have meant that the SDLP could not join? Is the United Community a small u unionist community?

    And I had such great hopes – somebody sit all aint so!!

  • John East Belfast

    Comrade & IJP

    Can somebody explain to me what the difference between Power Sharing and “sectional interest … power dividing” is please ?

    ie what type of Power Sharing did the Alliance Party have in mind all those 30 years plus ago ?

    Was it not a case that they recognised that NI was a deeply divided society with politics that did not necessarily lend itself to a democractic change of government every few years and therefore everyone in the community had to feel it had a lever on power ?

    Not only does this apply to Unionist and Nationalists but also – why not? – to Moderate and Secular Unionists and in addition Nationalists deeply opposed to militant Republicanism ?

    Hence we have a situation where the power changes occur within Unionism and Nationalism themselves.

    In addition to the above there are the non alligned.

    Can someone also tell me why Opposition from the 16 back bench UUP MLAs to the Non UUP Ministers cannot occur ?
    I can understand the two UUP Ministers might have a problem giving a hard time to fellow Ministers but that should not be the case for UUP backbenchers – indeed knowing our Party the latter will problem see it as their duty to oppose their own Ministers.

    Also a lot of this debate appears to be that the UUP and SDLP need to be in Opposition to advance their position.

    However the UUP need clearly defined moderate Unionist Policies articulated by able front line people – whether we have two Ministers or are in Opposition wont make any noticelable difference if we dont get our Policy and People right.

    If anything being in Opposition might just serve to make our MLAs complacent – (no hope of Ministerial promotion within life time of Assembly) and not help with our recruitment drive to involve the professional and middle classes in Ulster Unionism.

    Indeed I can see no practical reason not to take our Ministerial positions – the whole plan sounds like a ‘good idea’ thought out by politicos and academics without any practical consideration of its actual outworking and IMHO an ignorance of the real problems facing the UUP – I cant speak for the SDLP.

    Being in Opposition will not aid UUP recovery one bit – indeed it would be akin to not constesting particular seats in an election – it will only cause further decline.

    I think we need to give the thing a chance.
    If it turned it was not working and our positions were untenable then there is nothing stopping a future withdrawel – but to do so now would be letting down the voters and pre-empting Failure without any discernable Return to the UUP.

  • páid

    God, the intelligent sluggerites are out in force on this thread!

    If sldp members are rejoicing at the downfall of fellow party members in the same constituencies, there can no longer be any doubt but that FF will be a home from home.

    And for an original turn-of-phrase it’s hard to beat Newt.

  • Dougal

    páid fails with, what has to be, the most pitiful attempt at SDLP bashing on Slugger to date. The sarcasm falls flat, criticising ”sldp members” and speaking about ” intelligent sluggerites” . Oh the irony! 😉

  • páid

    Hey Dougal,

    don’t confuse the intelligentsia with the dyslexic!

    😉

  • bob Wilson

    JEB
    ‘Can someone also tell me why Opposition from the 16 back bench UUP MLAs to the Non UUP Ministers cannot occur ? ‘

    Is this the Hokey Cokey Position – you put one foot in, you one foot out?

    It could be the best of both worlds – or the worst!

    Would you produce two manifestos at election time – one for the two Depts you ran (albeit restrained by the other members of the Exec) and one castigating your Ministerial colleagies for bad govt?

  • John East Belfast

    bob

    I think you are confusing Power Sharing with a Coalition

  • Crataegus

    John

    DO you not think the electorate would view your proposal as wanting to be all things to all people, opportunism perhaps?

    Your ministers would be in a very odd position, who would want to involve them, who would trust them?

  • John East Belfast

    Crataegus

    “DO you not think the electorate would view your proposal as wanting to be all things to all people, opportunism perhaps?”

    I am not really sure what you mean to give you an answer ?

    “Your ministers would be in a very odd position, who would want to involve them, who would trust them?”

    Are you saying the DUP and SF are going to trust each other ?

    Lets be real this is a very odd form of government for an odd and troubled part of the world – having said that I still think it is better than first past the post and winner takes all.

    Basically the DUP and the UUP will be working for the betterment of NI and their own Party – in that order for the UUP and reverse order for the DUP.

    The SDLP will be working for their constituents and their own Party.

    SF will be working to destroy NI and advance their own Party.

    It is that cocktail that has to be faced and any Minister who is rubbish at his brief can expect a kicking from all MLAs and hopefully a demotion within his own Party.

    Meanwhile the Unionists will be pressing to develop the East West relationships and cement the Union and the Nationalists will be pushing teh North South.

    This is not the kind of environment that the UUP opts out off – such an act is not necessary.

  • Gonzo

    John – have you heard about the Programme for Government?

    All the Executive parties are bound to it collectively, so this idea about the UUP being critical of other ministers is a bit of a flyer, as they’d already have agreed the government’s objectives – aims that all four parties share.

    There may be differences in how to achieve these aims, but since they’ll be largely decided by civil servants anyway, and the parties will at least want to present the veneer of a united coalition government with a shared PfG, the notion that the UUP could be an ‘opposition’ within an Executive is probably wishful thinking.

  • Ian

    “DO you not think the electorate would view your proposal as wanting to be all things to all people, opportunism perhaps?”

    It was the position the DUP took during the last Assembly (prior to Stormontgate) and it never did any harm to their electoral prospects.

  • Crataegus

    John

    I don’t hold out much optimism for a SF – DUP government and agree with your assessment of the aims of both parties. If this government works then problems over but it is a very big IF. I would take the view that it makes more sense to keep one’s distance.

    Being in and sniping at the same time seems dishonourable to me.

  • Martin Wilson

    Ian.
    Who do you think the sdlp candidate should have been?Danny o’Connor works tirelessly for the people of this constituency,the reduction in attacks against the nationalist/catholic community are a direct result of the direct engagement that Danny has had with Loyalist political representatives.If you only knew the work that Danny has done over the last ten years to try to make east antrim a safer place you would not be publishing such shite.It is not just the engagagement with loyalists, but with both governments to ensure the safety of people within east antrim.I have to say all this work is done in private as is all his other constituency work.Without the work of danny o’connor over the last ten years, nationalists in this constituency would be in much worse shape.

  • Ian

    Martin,

    That was a different ‘Ian’ that made the comment about East Antrim.