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Constructive leadership needed so parties work for all and don't fall back into politics of hatred and fear

letter of the day: election fallout

Northern Ireland's political map is now starkly divided and polarised. That is a cause for concern for those who care for this place and it gives us pause to think about what we are handing on to future generations. It is easy to slip into the politics of hatred and fear, without fully considering the consequences.

The new landscape is a belated outworking of the two governments' strategy of cultivating the DUP and Sinn Fein, rather than parties that were, at the time, considered 'centre-ground'. This thinking reached its nadir at the St Andrews Agreement, when a sectarian headcount at election time was entrenched in our devolved institutions.

Both the larger parties have changed in pursuit of power, but can we rely upon them to work for the benefit of everyone? We will get an answer to that question in the next few weeks.

The DUP, in particular, has an unparalleled opportunity to embrace mainstream politics and use its new-found influence at Westminster to make our society and economy more successful.

If the principle of consent that underpinned the Good Friday Agreement means anything, it means that MPs from Northern Ireland can - and should - aspire to have a say in the government of the United Kingdom.

As to nationalism, it is not for me to say someone cannot aspire to a united Ireland, but I can challenge the methods they use to pursue it. I would expect a similar challenge to my constitutional preference that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK, with great relations with the rest of Ireland and, of course, Europe.

Trashing this place, which we have agreed to share, is in no one's interest and condemns us all to misery and further heartache. So, I would suggest we become more demanding of those who are elected to take responsibility that they do so constructively.

As I have said so often before, we are fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world and its people have tremendous qualities, which are brought to the fore by constructive leadership.


Holywood, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph


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