Belfast Telegraph

UUP leader warns political vacuum being filled by dark elements as he welcomes renewed talks

Leader Robin Swann launches the Ulster Unionist Party’s election manifesto
Leader Robin Swann launches the Ulster Unionist Party’s election manifesto
Party candidate Julie Flaherty
Members enjoy a laugh

By Michael McHugh

The political vacuum at Stormont will be exploited by the terrorists, UUP leader Robin Swann has warned.

He backed the renewed talks to restore power-sharing, which are due to begin soon following the murder of Lyra McKee (29) last week.

Mr Swann was speaking as he launched the party's council elections manifesto yesterday.

He said: "We cannot ignore the fact that a political vacuum will be exploited and filled by the men and women of the shadows.

"As political leaders we must recognise that and get back around the table. No more red lines and pre-conditions.

"We need to have a frank and honest conversation about what the lack of devolution is doing to our people and the steps that need to be taken."

Stormont has been suspended for more than two years following a row between the DUP and Sinn Fein over the botched RHI scheme.

Mr Swann added: "A week on from one of the darkest days this country has seen for some time, it is important to reflect on the journey we are still on to provide our people with a society fully at peace.

"There are still those dark elements out there who seek to destroy lives.

"Those who still whip up young people into a frenzy, sending a new generation into the justice system while they retreat into the shadows.

"Whether in the Creggan, east Belfast or any other part of Northern Ireland, the message is clear.

"Get off the backs of our people."

Mr Swann launched his party's manifesto for next week's local government election at an east Belfast hotel.

He said: "The reality is that in the absence of Stormont, over the last two years, local government has been the last remaining vestige of democracy that still functions and it survived through the toughest of times that Northern Ireland faced.

"That is why I believe that this election is about local councils, local democracy, local accountability and local responsibility.

"We cannot ignore that this campaign has seen the DUP and Sinn Fein trying to turn it into a border poll and create an atmosphere around it that is as toxic as the one they created at Stormont.

"We cannot allow them to turn our local councils into 11 mini-Stormonts ruled by dysfunctionality, blighted with disrespect and wrecked by scandals."

The key manifesto priorities for UUP

Abolishing the existing property rating system and replacing it with a more transparent version.

Regenerating town centres.

Retaining essential local health services.

Supporting rural economies and boosting wider economic development.

Maximising the potential of tourism.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph