I've been a member of the Liberal Democrats since I joined Aberystwyth University in September 2000 - I never thought I would join another. But today I have joined their sister party, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland as a show of support after the outrageous recent events that have befallen David Ford and his colleagues in recent days over the Unionist flag dispute.
|Source: The Guardian|
Alliance Party offices and the homes of Alliance Party members have been attacked since that vote as the old and ugly sectarian face of the past has reared its head once more. In Carrickfergus on Wednesday for example, the constituency office of Stewart Dickson MLA was burnt out by protestors. David Ford, the Alliance leader and Minister for Justice in the Stormont Parliament called it an "assault on democracy".
As this BBC article states, threats have also been posted on social media sites against party members and only today, the Alliance Party MP Naomi Long has reported on Ulster TV that she has received a death threat which she said has warned her not to continue living in her East Belfast home.
'Today we all vote for the Alliance Party'
Today's Belfast Telegraph has pulled no punches as its editorial sides with moderation as espoused by Alliance and against the old forces of hate that have appeared once more this week.
To quote the Belfast Telegraph today...
"The city council is democratically elected, which has been conveniently forgotten by some, and a vote was taken to fly the flag on designated days. This was a result of the Alliance Party trying to broker a compromise between the intractable positions of unionists and nationalists/republicans. The rest is now another dark chapter in what is supposed to be, at least as far as the outside world cares anymore, our peace time society".It continues...
"This newspaper takes no political sides, choosing to seek out the good in all parties. But the targeting of Alliance, a party which has much to contribute to a forward-looking political debate, represents a desperate recent low in community relations".I love Northern Ireland and as I have written before in this blog, I have visited Belfast on a number of occasions. It's a fantastic, vibrant city offering so much potential. When friends ask me with trepidation about the 'Troubles', I have countered positively that whilst it will take generations for the wounds to heal, this is a country moving forward.
So it has been with great sorrow that I have witnessed from across the water, this fall back to the ways of old.
In solidarity for my friends in Northern Ireland who espouse a different way from those of the past and who have found themselves under serious attack this week, I have therefore made the leap of not only supporting them from afar as a member of a sister party, but by joining their ranks outright.
I would urge those who read this and agree with the eloquent editorial in today's Belfast Telegraph to consider doing the same You can do so here.