Belfast Telegraph

North Belfast unionist parties forge new pact

by Chris McCann

Elected unionist representatives from north Belfast have announced a campaign of co-operation whereby they will come together in “working with, and for, the benefit of the communities they represent”.

The DUP and UUP have pledged to work for a “more co-ordinated approach to the challenges which face their constituents and for developing communities throughout north Belfast”.

In a joint statement, DUP MP Nigel Dodds, the UUP’s Fred Cobain MLA, Nelson McCausland MLA and William Humphrey MLA, both of the DUP, said: “Unionist co-operation is not so much about voting pacts and electoral arrangements. Rather, it is about unionist elected representatives committing themselves to engaging and working together in continuing partnership with the community in order to ensure co-operation takes place in a real and meaningful way.

“This is by no means short-term in nature. It will involve developing long-term strategic positions in relation to social, economic, educational and cultural issues impacting on north and west Belfast communities.”

The group said there are already a number of councils across the province, including Belfast, where unionist representatives work together for the benefit of their electorate on a range of local issues.

“All too often the electorate is unaware as to the level of this co-operation which sadly fuels the perception that working relationships between unionists are virtually non-existent,” said the representatives.

“This important initiative will facilitate our MP, MLAs and councillors to work together in a more strategic and joined-up way.

“The community has also an important role to play in expressing support for greater co-operation between unionist politicians in north and west Belfast,” they said.

“We recognise the need to inspire a new level of confidence in north and west Belfast unionist politicians which will in turn encourage and promote more local participation in future council, Assembly and Parliamentary elections.

“To this end we believe it is vital to continue to develop real community engagement and consultation and to ensure opportunities exist for the voices of our electorate to be heard whilst other issues — such as the need to develop greater electoral registration — can be promoted.”

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