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TUV not anti-Sinn Fein in a voluntary coalition

Your correspondent Rab McCartney (Write Back, February 10) deliberately, or otherwise, misrepresents TUV's very clear position.

We are not opposed to shared government. We unashamedly oppose terrorists in government and the system designed to put them there, mandatory coalition.

It is not a matter of rejecting Sinn Fein's mandate. We do not, but no party, my own included, can in a democracy have a mandate to be in government 'as of right'.

This is the iniquity which lies at the heart of mandatory coalition and which, along with the toxic veto which it gifts Sinn Fein, makes it utterly undemocratic; because it denies every voter, Mr McCartney included, the fundamental right to vote a party out of government and the right to have an Opposition.

No party in Northern Ireland is big enough to form a government on its own, so coalition is inevitable. But it must be a voluntary coalition, built on consensus, whereby those - Protestants and Catholics - who can agree a programme of government and command the requisite majority in the Assembly, govern and those who can't, fulfil the vital role of Opposition.

If Sinn Fein can persuade others to join them in government then, distasteful as it would be to me, I'd have to accept them getting there by the fair means of voluntary coalition, but I can never accept the foul means of mandatory coalition.

But, if Sinn Fein are only democrats so long as they, as now, are guaranteed a place in government, then, they are not democrats at all.

As to how voluntary coalition is secured: by democrats refusing to operate the absurdity of mandatory coalition and thereby forcing the switch to voluntary coalition if Stormont is to continue.

The election of a sizeable bridgehead of TUV MLAs will be the catalyst for such change, forcing others, who claim to dislike mandatory coalition, to choose between its continuing failed operation or making a fresh start.

Certainly, electing those who happily operate mandatory coalition will never compel change, merely guarantee more failure.

JIM ALLISTER

Leader, Traditional Unionist Voice

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