Monthly Archives: April 1998

North Belfast Alliance Constituency Representative Glyn Roberts has hit out at the Orange Order after it placed ‘petty’ preconditions on a meeting with North Belfast members to discuss the controversial ‘Tour Of the North’ parade next month.

Glyn Roberts said:

“The Alliance Party had requested a meeting tomorrow with Orange Order to put forward proposals to them which may prevent violent confrontation with the ‘Tour of the North’ parade.

“Today we were amazed to find that they have now refused to meet with us because one of our delegation is not an elected representative of Belfast City Council. Who on earth do they think are to make such an outrageous and rather stupid precondition as to who we have on our delegation.

“After all who has ever elected the Orange Order?

“We had serious proposals to put to them for a possible compromise and I can only conclude with this silly precondition that they simply are not interested in any form of accommodation over this parade.

Alliance Deputy Leader and Lisburn Councillor Seamus Close has condemned those who planted the car bomb in Lisburn this afternoon.

Seamus Close said:

“We must all be thankful that this device was dealt with safely, saving the people who live and work in Lisburn from danger.

“The planting of this bomb is a clear demonstration that there are those within our society who remain intent on following an agenda of death and destruction. These people are terrified that Northern Ireland might be beginning to move towards a future where the only thing they offer – a future without hope – is rejected and isolated.

“The best way to bend them a message that Northern Ireland does want a future with hope is to endorse the Agreement in the May 22 Referendum.

Alliance Party Chief Whip Sean Neeson is calling on Translink to carry out an urgent investigation into this mornings train crash at Yorkgate and make public its findings into this crash and the similar crash on the Lisburn line in recent times.

Mr Neeson said:

“I am disturbed that Translink are trying to play down the significance of these two train crashes. I am aware that new signaling equipment has been tried out by the Transport Company and would like the public to know if this has been a contributory factor in these crashes. Fortunately, no one has been seriously injured in either crash but passengers need urgent reassurances from Translink.”

Alliance Spokesperson on Europe, Alderman Sean Neeson, has welcomed the Secretary of State’s visit to the European Parliament, and urged his colleagues in Liberal Parties across Europe to respond positively to Mo Mowlam’s statement in the European Parliament this afternoon.

Alderman Neeson said:

“The Secretary of State is to be commended for this initiative. Anyone with any influence on those in the European Parliament must seek to ensure that Northern Ireland is not forgotten in the years ahead.

“There will be many dividends if we establish a peaceful future – but our social and economic problems will not disappear overnight.

“I have asked the Alliance Party’s colleagues in the Liberal Group in the Parliament to do all they can to keep Northern Ireland near the top of the European Union’s funding agenda.”

Carrickfergus Alderman Stewart Dickson commenting on this mornings derailment at Yorkgate Railway Station expressed serious concern about Northern Ireland Railways recent safety record.

Alderman Dickson said:

“This accident following on from the recent accident at Adelaide involving a goods train requires Northern Ireland Railways to assure the travelling public that they are doing all in their power to ensure the safety of there trains track for their passengers.

“Although no one was injured in this mornings accident, it could have easily been a train full of school children travelling from Whitehead, Carrickfergus and Greenisland to Belfast.

“I saw the train myself this morning at Yorkgate and it is no doubt had there been passengers on board there would have been serious injuries.”

Alderman Dickson is now calling for a public inquiry into safety issues into Northern Ireland Railways.

Alliance Vice Chair, Councillor Peter Osborne, expressed concern and disappointment after last nights Castlereagh Council Meeting when:

  • The Council endorsed a DUP motion attacking the Agreement.
  • The Ulster Unionist Group Leadership voted with the DUP against the Agreement.
  • The Ulster Unionist Group turned down his request for a meeting to discuss co-ordination of a local ‘Yes’ Campaign.

Councillor Osborne said:

“I am dismayed Castlereagh is yet again, standing out as a bastion of backwoodsmen. I believe the Council is out of touch with grass roots feeling in the area.

“People want a Yes vote on 22 May. I am particularly annoyed with the Ulster Unionist Group. For months they have all attacked their Party Leadership.

“It is especially appalling that they will not countenance ever meeting with us to discuss a Yes Campaign in the Borough.”

Only 2 Unionists turned up for the vote, one backing the DUP and one voting against the DUP motion.

Alliance Leader, Lord Alderdice, Deputy Leader, Seamus Close and former Leader, Oliver Napier, have travelled to Hillsborough this evening to meet the Prime Minister.

On leaving Castle Buildings, the Alliance Leader said:

“I was pleased that the Prime Minister responded positively to our request that he travel urgently to Northern Ireland. The paper presented early this morning was a step backwards rather than forwards in our search for a settlement. The Prime Minister’s decision to come to the Talks has opened the possibility that an agreement could be reached.

“The Governments, and parties to the Talks, must realise that if they push too far in any agreement it will not work. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of 1974 and 1985 again. History has shown that even if Party Leaders, in the pressure of negotiations, sign up to an agreement, such agreements can collapse under pressure.

“The Prime Minister must learn from the mistakes of the past and help us to reach a realistic agreement by Thursday.”


Oliver Napier, former Alliance Leader was one of the four signatories to the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement which established a power-sharing Assembly in Belfast in 1974. This Agreement subsequently collapsed in the face of unionist pressure.

Alliance Chief Whip, Alderman Sean Neeson, has condemned this mornings’ petrol bomb attack in Larne as a blatantly sectarian act of attempted murder.

Mr Sean Neeson said:

“I am deeply concerned at the growing regularity of sectarian attacks in Larne and other parts of East Antrim.

“It is clear that there are groups of people who are hell-bent on creating sectarian division, especially as we near a possible political settlement.

“While the police have increased resources on the ground throughout East Antrim, these cowardly acts can only be brought to an end when the people responsible are brought to justice.”

Alliance Deputy Leader, Seamus Close, has expressed concern at reports that David Andrews’ has implied that a referendum may not happen on 22 May. He has called upon Mr Andrews to clarify this matter.

Seamus Close said:

“Today, I have read newspaper reports indicating that David Andrews has implied that a referendum on a political agreement may not happen on 22 May.

“Alliance believes that slippage within the current process could be very dangerous. It is vital that the parties remain committed to working to the already publicised timetable.

“It is vital that Mr Andrews clarifies the Irish Government’s position on the referendum.”