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Political pacts will only benefit archaic Orangemen

I can see why many people see it as important to ensure as many constituencies as possible have an MP who takes their seat to represent their constituents.

However, the so-called unionist "pacts" offer nothing to people committed to the values of the modern UK, serving to make Northern Ireland only more exclusive, more extremist and more exceptional from progressive thinking.

The beneficiaries of the pact in four constituencies are all Orangemen with a record of opposing progressive social policy.

All male, all members of an order which excludes even people who marry Catholics, and all with a record of opposing even basic gay rights, they are fundamentally unrepresentative of the modern, diverse UK they claim to want to preserve.

I have heard it argued that this is not a "policy pact", but the four candidates cannot be differentiated on policy.

Can any of the four pledge to campaign to overturn the outrageous gay blood ban? Will any of the four vote clearly against the conscience clause?

They represent an openly patriarchal, sectarian and discriminatory movement which has moved a million miles - backwards - from David Trimble's UUP, which sought progress through compromise.

That movement is now a cold house for all those who seek an outward-looking Northern Ireland at ease with itself and its neighbours. Some of us have already found a warmer house elsewhere and I trust many more will follow.

PAULA BRADSHAW (Alliance)

Belfast City Council

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