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Monthly Archives: May 1998

THE Alliance Party’s Chairperson has issued an impassioned plea to the people of North Down urging them to turn out in force – and vote ‘Yes’ in next Friday’s referendum.

Speaking to North Down Alliance Association members last night, Councillor Eileen Bell said it was “imperative” that a resounding ‘Yes’ vote be recorded on May 22.

Councillor Bell, who is an Alliance Party Constituency Representative for North Down, also insisted that any new assembly in Northern Ireland would have to respect “all traditions”.

The former Stormont Talks Delegate and Northern Ireland Forum member warned against the idea of a Nationalist and Unionist assembly. She said that any assembly would have to include representatives from all political perspectives.

“Over the past few weeks I have listened to certain politicians labelling the Mitchell accord as an accommodation between the ideologies of Nationalism and Unionism. However, this is completely untrue – it is an accommodation between all political perspectives,” she said.

Mrs. Bell added: “Any assembly in Northern Ireland will not work without the support of politicians who don’t consider themselves to be Nationalist or Unionist. It is important that all traditions are equally represented.

“If the agreement is endorsed by the community, then we will do our best to make sure that the government of Northern Ireland is accountable, democratic and representative. We must not have a return to the old system of Stormont.

“The agreement reached on Good Friday presents us with a unique opportunity to move forward. It is not a perfect agreement, but we must realise that there is no alternative.

“And even if some of the people don’t agree with the package, they still have time to change their minds and vote ‘Yes’. It can lead us to a better future and it can give us greater control over our own community.”

Attempts made by the National Women’s Commission to get more women into politics have been welcomed by the Alliance Party Chairperson and North Down Councillor Eileen Bell who was speaking at the Commissions Conference last weekend.

Cllr Bell said:

“It was important for the women of Northern Ireland to work together.

“I think that last weekends Conference was a good occasion and very informative to all women who want to become involved in a wide range of activities.

“It shows that women from a wide range of political parties have a networking system that can help them in the world of politics.

“Organisers of the Conference have to be commended for their efforts in bringing women together. Women have an active role to play in politics and I think people are beginning to realise this.

“Women who have been in representative Politics for many years appreciate the deficiencies in our Political System but would still say that we do better by participation in the Political Arena than standing outside complaining. We must adopt a strategy for change and improvement that it will include both male and female politicians so that the old bugbears of competition and distrust are less likely to hinder that improvement.

“If this Assembly is going to work effectively for all the people of Northern Ireland it is essential that it will be made up in clear terms of representation and diversity. We must work together in the common aim of a better Northern Ireland for everyone not just on our own personal agenda.”

The Alliance Party Chairperson has described last weekends Women’s Commission Conference as a “great boost”.

The Alliance Party Council – the policy decision making body of the Party – today gave a formal endorsement to the Good Friday Agreement. The Council met at Carrickfergus today for a specially organised discussion on the Agreement. Speaking at the meeting, Alliance Party Chair, Cllr Eileen Bell, welcomed the endorsement of the deal, and hit back at claims by the ‘No’ Campaign that the ‘Yes’ campaign has been badly organised.

Cllr Bell said:

“The Party Council had an excellent and very positive discussion of the Agreement, and as the Party’s Talks Team we were delighted with the endorsement they gave to what had been achieved at Stormont. The Party has committed itself to working for a huge ‘Yes’ vote in the Referendum, and to building on the foundation that we will then have for the creation of a new future for Northern Ireland.

“It is amusing to hear the No Campaigners trying to criticise the ‘Yes’ Campaigners for being disorganised – now that they are losing the argument over the Agreement, they are reduced to arguing over who has the better campaign! We did not have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines for months and months as the DUP and the UKUP had. The parties who forged the Agreement were busy directing our time and energies towards moving Northern Ireland forward, not dragging it backwards. But having done so, we now have an Agreement which the overwhelming majority of people can and will support.”

The Alliance Party today launched their ‘Yes’ Campaign for the May 22 Referendum, at a press conference in their Party Headquarters.

Lord Alderdice said:

“From now to Referendum Day our single priority is to tell the people of Northern Ireland the truth about the Good Friday Agreement. The level of lies and misinformation that has been inspired by the ‘No’ campaign has been disappointing. Their campaign for a ‘No’ vote began long before the parties that had the courage to stay at the Talks had reached any agreement. With that in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that the information that they are giving people bears little similarity to the contents of the Agreement.”

At the Press Conference, Campaign Director Cllr. Richard Good showed journalists a room in the Party’s headquarters building which has been converted to an information room for the Referendum Campaign. Posters on the wall of the room read ‘Welcome to the Alliance Truth Commission’.

Cllr Good said:

“The volume of letters and calls received here at Party Headquarters and by our Councillors across Northern Ireland has shown us that many people who want to support this Agreement are becoming confused by the ‘No’ campaign. They are left in confusion when the DUP/UKUP campaign tell them things about the Agreement that, upon further reading, simply cannot be found anywhere in the Agreement. Our campaign is designed to do one thing – to tell it as it is to the people of Northern Ireland. When we do, I am convinced that people will recognise that the Agreement is a compromise – and the best way forward for all of us.”