McCann meets….Chris Lyttle MLA

 Last Friday I interviewed the East Belfast Alliance MLA, Chris Lyttle. Below are some excerpts of the interview but I would recommend listening to the entire thing as it is only 16 minutes long.

On Naomi Long retaining East Belfast at the next election

I think we have as always worked extremely hard in the community in East Belfast. We have shown leadership on some of the key issues, taken a stand on what we believe is best for local people across East Belfast and we’ll go back with a positive message when the next elections come around.

On the flag vote in Belfast City Council

The policy that we stood for in the council at that vote is a policy that the Alliance party had held for a long time…I think if anything the situation was made obviously in my opinion difficult by the distribution of approximately 40,000 leaflets across Belfast. Leaflets that in my opinion, used inflammatory and, also, singularly targeted Naomi Long, who was not a councillor at that time. And some of the explanations we have heard as to why that leaflet went out and the content of that leaflet don’t stack up in my opinion…I think there was a complete lack of leadership shown from some parties and some elected representatives that contributed to the intense difficulty and public unrest that followed.

On the nationalist parties

I recognise that there is at least a perceived fear amongst people in the community that Sinn Fein supported by the SDLP on occasion have a very clear agenda. Some people have referred to it as a cultural war, I think that is very inflammatory and unhelpful comment to use but I will agree that Sinn Fein and the SDLP need challenged on exactly what a shared future and reconciliation to look like.

On the possibility of an electoral backlash

We work in communities on a regular basis, we get out there to see what local issues we could be working on and we continue to receive support while we are doing that. We received a significant amount of membership applications further to the vote at Belfast City Hall from people who supported the difficult stance that we took to stand up for the principles of the Good Friday Agreement and for a shared future. It remains to be seen at election time exactly where the votes go further to that.

On the new peace wall around Short Strand

I think it’s deeply disappointing that there is a need for albeit a temporary time bound security fence at the Short Strand interface but we need to think about why it’s there. There’s a reasonable small minority of people who resort to riotous behaviour on occasion. They are the people who are putting the vast majority of people who are involved in cross-community work in that area and who want to live in peace; under threat…I think we also need to look to how seriously the Office of First and Deputy First Minister are taking their responsibility to deliver a community relations shared future strategy.

On NI21

I have yet to see any significant policy that seems to be significantly different from the Alliance party.

On the BBC Spotlight programme on the UVF

I think unfortunately there does appear to be a small minority of people who are holding the vast majority of people in East Belfast to ransom with some of their actions. We unfortunately have seen some extreme murals in recent weeks. We have seen some concerning paramilitary style attacks and I think the vast majority of people in East Belfast wholly reject this type of behaviour.

 

Full interview available here

 

McCann meets…Chris Lyttle MLA by Ontherecord98fm on Mixcloud

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  • Charles_Gould

    To be fair to Alliance:

    *Alliance have been clear they are not pro-union, they are union-agnostic.
    *Alliance are opposed to academic selection.

    These are different from NI21.

  • aquifer

    Thanks Charles for opening up a political dispute in the non-sectarian centre.

    Nice to have people who can make a political point without having someone murdered or intimidated.

  • Framer

    “I recognise that there is at least a perceived fear amongst people in the community that Sinn Fein supported by the SDLP on occasion have a very clear agenda. Some people have referred to it as a cultural war, I think that is very inflammatory and unhelpful comment to use but I will agree that Sinn Fein and the SDLP need challenged on exactly what a shared future and reconciliation to look like.”

    If talking of a cultural war is ‘inflammatory’ what does he think voting to remove the national flag from City Hall was?

  • citybus

    Does anyone find it suspicious that the Spotlight programme on the UVF was NEVER available for view on the iplayer? I can half imagine a DUP politician kindly asking the BBC to shelve the shows’ repeat as it put “the constituency in a bad light”. Supposedly one of the top local documentary’s of the year yet like many I never got to watch it.

  • Barry the Blender

    MLA talks about how much hard work his party does in community. Quite a story

  • foyle observer

    ”If talking of a cultural war is ‘inflammatory’ what does he think voting to remove the national flag from City Hall was?”

    Hardly ‘inflammatory’. More like in line with the rest of the ‘United’ kingdom?

    Maybe, in your planter mindset, the removal of YOUR foreign flag from the City Hall of Beal Feairste is ‘imflammatory’ but how about looking at it from the Irish people’s point of view for one moment?

  • Charles_Gould

    Is it appropriate to call someone, who is unionist, “planter”?

  • Charles_Gould

    Disappointed that Chris has not been more opposed to the new peace wall. When Alliance acquiesce in peace walls, what hope is there?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Foyle observer

    “Maybe, in your planter mindset, the removal of YOUR foreign flag from the City Hall of Beal Feairste is ‘imflammatory’ but how about looking at it from the Irish people’s point of view for one moment?”

    What the Dickens are you one about?

    Foreign flag?
    It is a collection of Norman-inspired/dedicated crosses as decreed by the Norman-descended big-wigs of Scotland, England and indeed Ireland.

    Granted, the only ones who really pay attention to St Patrick’s Cross (or Fitzgerald’s Saltire) are the Catholic church and a few Protestants on St Patrick’s day.

    But ‘foreign flag’? Hardly.

    And as for the ‘Planter’ comment, that was highly inappropriate.

    There’s hardly a person (immigrants excepted) in the Grim North that doesn’t have some form of ‘Planter’ heritage and ditto the Protestants with Gaelic ancestry.

    Finally “an Irish person’s point of view”?

    Please enlighten us all as to whom this select few are?

    Do I count as one or has my ‘planter’ bloodline disqualified me from this band?

    Was Edward Carson an Irish man?
    Or will he fall victim to a great air-brushing of history?

    Pray do tell.

    Yeash.

  • quality

    Charles_Gould

    In my experience, the people who tend to support peace walls the most are the people either side of them. That’s the problem that needs addressed, not the physical wall itself.

  • foyle observer

    Am Ghobsmacht,

    This is Ireland.

    The Union Jack is the flag of a foreign nation, Britain. The British people on this land are, descendants of immigrant Scots who arrived here and laid claim to the native Irish peoples land.

    I hope that clears that up for you with regards to my position on this.

    Plenty of Unionists enjoy referring to the Tricolour as a ‘flag of a foreign nation’, unchallenged.

  • foyle observer

    And yes, Edward Carson, of course was an Irish man – born and bred in Dublin, our capital.

    A West Brit, but an Irish man all the same.

  • Framer

    Foyle is at least plain in his belief that the Irish people are a single unchanged and unchanging entity. It is on this myth that the Provo war was fought.
    The Irish are a nation defined by God and nature (in this case seawater).
    Now for the unwriting of history and intermarriage.

  • foyle observer

    ”Foyle is at least plain in his belief that the Irish people are a single unchanged and unchanging entity. It is on this myth that the Provo war was fought.”

    Myth?

    I think a real myth is that the ‘loyalist’ people of Ireland are ‘British’. I mean come on, Britain is a separate country, a separate island completely. They are born and bred in Ireland, yet find it impossible to bring themselves to acknowledge the fact they are in some part, Irish. Even Paisley acknowledged this fact.

    We’re Irish. This island is Ireland and will never bow down to the imperialist, colonial disgrace that is ‘Great’ Britain.

    I suppose the Iraqis and Afghanis are British, are they?

  • Son of Strongbow

    I wonder do those who regard themselves as Pure Irish carry with them a set of callipers, or even a DNA kit, in case they should be called upon to assess the antecedents of others they may randomly come across?

    As for the ‘British’ tag we who live on the British Isles may claim our Britishness no matter which other identity we may wish to primarily highlight.

    Surely that can satisfy even those seemingly obsessed by geography?

  • quality

    foyle observer

    I say this as someone who is agnostically ‘nationalist’… Do the Iraqis or Afghanis have an agreed document stating people can identify as British or Irish if they so wish?

    I thought the “they’re Irish really, they just don’t know it” argument went out years ago.

  • Charles_Gould

    Integrated education would help some people accept other people.

  • foyle observer

    Integrated Education is a Unionist’s solution to all problems in the North of Ireland.

    I can tell you right now, as a former pupil of St Columb’s College, Derry, there is a lot to be said for a Catholic education.

    I mean, fleggers and their ilk are hardly selling the whole integrated education, are they?!

  • Alan N/Ards

    foyle observer

    That’s the way to stop the pure irish race from being contaminated. Keep the planter / west brit kids in their own ghettos. They are obviously inferior. Reminds me of a wee Austrian chap in the 1930’s. Henry Joy McCracken and Wolfe Tone must be spinning in their graves.

  • foyle observer

    ”As for the ‘British’ tag we who live on the British Isles may claim our Britishness no matter which other identity we may wish to primarily highlight.

    Surely that can satisfy even those seemingly obsessed by geography?”

    SOS, i look forward to you pointing this out to the next eejit with a flag (or need for votes) who exclaims ‘ULSTER IS BRITISH’.

    After all, Ulster is, and always has been, a Province of Ireland.

  • foyle observer

    ”hat’s the way to stop the pure irish race from being contaminated. Keep the planter / west brit kids in their own ghettos. They are obviously inferior”

    Where on earth did this come from?

    I happen to live happily alongside my neighbours who are British, i respect their identity and i also happen to absolutely love Britain and it’s culture. I would live in London over Dublin in a heartbeat.

    So, if my posts in some way suggested that i think of the British in Ireland, as ‘inferior’, i apologise. Some Irish men can be described as ‘West Brit’. This term does not apply to the Protestant people of the North of Ireland who see themselves as British, and only British. Completely different thing.

  • Alan N/Ards

    foyle observer

    Fair enough. I was slightly over the top there. Apologies. I just fail to see how we can move forward here, when our young children are seperated from the age of five to eighteen. The vast majority live in seperate housing areas and seldom have the chance to socialise together.

    By the way, I have no problem calling myself irish. To be honest, I prefer calling myself northern irish rather than british.

    A question for you. Can a person still be a good irishman/woman if they give their allegiance to a foreign head of state?

  • Charles_Gould

    Some of the comments on here do not reflect that well on the educational system. That is, there seems to be an intolerant attitude towards people with alternative identities. It does suggest a problem with the education system, particularly mono-denominational schools.

  • Charles_Gould

    David McCann

    I wondered why you didn’t take Chris Lyttle to task on the issue of integrated education? After all it is one of the most important steps that could be taken, and Alliance have always been supportive.

    A question such as “What has Alliance party done for integrated education since entering the Government?” would be interesting.

  • Charles_Gould

    I would expect that the way forward for single-denomination schools is a requirement that a certain quota of kids from outside the denomination be admitted to the schools. Say 10% to begin with.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    foyle observer (profile)

    15 November 2013 at 9:57 am

    “Am Ghobsmacht,

    This is Ireland.

    The Union Jack is the flag of a foreign nation, Britain. The British people on this land are, descendants of immigrant Scots who arrived here and laid claim to the native Irish peoples land.

    I hope that clears that up for you with regards to my position on this.

    Plenty of Unionists enjoy referring to the Tricolour as a ‘flag of a foreign nation’, unchallenged.”

    It is indeed Ireland. Correct.

    Ireland being represented in the Union Flag (through fair means or foul) by the St Patrick’s cross (Fitzgerald’s saltire, whatever).
    Our Norman-descended overlords decreed this.
    As they did in Scotland and England.

    The ‘British people’ (whom you later refer to as Irish people too) are descended from a mixture of planters and Irish people.

    As are the ‘Irish people’ of the North.
    Adams, Campbell, McDonald and De Brun are hardly typical Irish names, yet they’re no stranger to SF are they?

    So your little black and white summary of the situation is over simplified.

    Soz.

    Are you one of these people who says that COUNTY Londonderry was called Derry before my sort came along?

    I ask you again, do I count as Irish or not?
    If so, then surely my opinion also carries some weight in the circumstances you mentioned earlier?

    Technically, and I know this is pedantic, the tri-colour IS the flag of a foreign country.
    I know what it means to many people in NI and as such I would be happy enough to see it fly on city hall (as part of a THREE flag solution), but, it is what it is.

  • Charles_Gould

    There are a lot of comments on this thread that make their writers *bad ambassadors* for their educational system.

    People should take a moment to review the comments they have made on this thread, and then self-assess on how open minded and tolerant their comments are.

  • David McCann

    Charles,

    I didn’t ask because the simple answer would be ‘we don’t control the education portfolio.’

  • Charles_Gould

    David

    I was glad you asked about the peace wall that Alliance have up up, in their portfolio.

    It is a sign of how being in government changes a party.

  • Charles_Gould

    David

    Any reason why you didn’t ask why Alliance have not brought about integrated teacher training, the integration of Marys and Stranmillis, a topic that falls within the DEL portfoilio? This is a very important part of integration.

  • FuturePhysicist

    David

    Just going a bit off thread here, but are ye any relation to Eammon?

  • daemon

    Dear Am Ghobsmacht
    Come off it!. Most of the ‘British people on this land’ have no idea where they come from & probably few are ‘Planter stock’.

    Anyone who arrived in Ireland before 1922 landed on a British island.

    Neither the Union Jack nor the Tricolour are ‘national’ flags in Northern Ireland as both are flaunted as party emblems.

    Are the Unionists parties really frightened of seeking reconciliation? It does look like it. A case of the tail wagging the dog. The leaders may be in the front but the engine is in the rear. The Unionist parties have never looked so weak.