There have been a number of pronouncements by the leaders of the two main parties in recent times aimed at appealing to voters to cross the political-religious divide, with specific reasons provided in each case. For Gerry Adams, the gentle pitch to the Shankill intimated that the broadly left perspective of republicans was in tandem with the working-class outlook of the loyalist residents of that district. Similarly, Peter Robinson’s pitch to catholics was based in his belief that his party’s economic vision would find favour with more right wing catholics. Nuala McKeever is undoubtedly right to pour cold water, observing that we are a long way from crossing this particular bridge yet.
Whilst both of these appeals are interesting, a cynic would suggest they are low maintenance PR exercises. However, South Belfast Sinn Fein’s decision to target the predominantly loyalist Village community with a specific bulletin is more interesting if only because of the additional thought and effort involved and the more substantive message that sends out to locals. The fact that the party claims that some 20% of the party’s constituency office cases emanate from the Village community is also another interesting sign of the times.
Whether there will be an electoral benefit is an entirely different matter, but it’s a sign of good politics in action nonetheless and, dare I say for those interested, further evidence of movement towards Longley’s vision?