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Northern Ireland opposition parties need joint manifesto

The coming Assembly election is being framed as an opportunity to vote for an alternative to the DUP and Sinn Fein in government.

It would appear that many of our people are prepared to give the UUP and SDLP a chance.

But to what purpose? The Opposition parties have already declared that they will be publishing their own manifesto.

In doing so, we are succumbing to tribal party politics, as the SDLP attempts to "out-green" Sinn Fein and the UUP puts itself forward as the alternative voice of unionism and the orange baggage that goes with it.

We should be voting for an alternative government, based on either a mandatory or voluntary coalition, who are fighting on the doorsteps using a single, agreed manifesto.

Then, from whatever political tradition, you can make a really informed choice.

Furthermore, a joint manifesto will provide some greater clarity on economic policy; on the big ticket issues of health and education and justice and societal issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

If it proves impossible to deliver even a joint manifesto, why on Earth should we believe these parties would be able to govern any more effectively together than the DUP and Sinn Fein?

We need assurances that the UUP and SDLP together are capable of advancing a radical change agenda before people will either switch vote, or be moved to vote at all.

If the UUP and the SDLP are genuine about providing a sea-change in politics here, fighting an election from the safety of their own traditional trenches isn't going to do it.

OBSERVER

Co Armagh

Belfast Telegraph

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