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Arlene should not forget values of Union First

May I, through your Letters Page, firstly wish all your readers a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year; and secondly, congratulate Arlene Foster on her unopposed coronation as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Arlene and I go back to our misspent youth at Queen's University Belfast Ulster Unionist Association (in the early-1990s), when, as Young Unionists, we had the privilege of being members of a party led by the late Jim Molyneaux and later shared the misfortune of seeing Lord Molyneaux's legacy destroyed overnight by his successor, one David (now Lord) Trimble, aided and abetted by Ken (now Lord) Maginnis.

This, in turn, led Arlene and I - together with many who now find themselves sitting alongside Arlene in the DUP Assembly Party - to become immersed in Union First, in a desperate attempt to remind the Ulster Unionist Party of traditional unionist principles.

Alas, today, without wishing to pour cold water on Arlene's election, the DUP - no less than the UUP - appears to have taken leave of traditional unionist values in adopting the Trimbleite policies Union First resolutely opposed.

Amid all the hullabaloo surrounding whether it was right for a member of Traditional Unionist Voice to remind Arlene of the shooting of her late father by her new-found friends in Sinn Fein/IRA, she may well recall I chastised her late uncle, Sammy Foster, when he became the environmentally-unfriendly Assembly environment minister after spending much of his political life opposing the creation of the very assembly of which Arlene is now joint First Minister with Martin McGuinness.

Once Arlene has recovered from the shock of becoming 'the first Iron Lady of Norn Iron', I pray she will remember, too, the one policy which will, indeed, bring lasting accountable democracy and constitutional stability to our wee country, that which the original Iron Lady failed to implement and which Jim Molyneaux drafted, which formed part of her 1979 Conservative general election manifesto, on which Margaret Thatcher was first returned to 10 Downing Street.

Now that would be cause for celebration among the greater number of people in, and beyond, Northern Ireland - albeit some 37 years late. After all, Jesus himself did not discriminate in who He chose to heal and/or save. Why should the Blood Transfusion Service play God and discriminate against sexually-active gay men, anymore than we as the Church - the body of Christ - should discriminate against people on grounds of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity?


Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Belfast Telegraph


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