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NORTH Down shadow assembly members will have to work “tirelessly” for the benefit of the constituency, a leading member of the Alliance Party said today.

Mrs. Eileen Bell said it was essential for the borough’s Alliance, Ulster Unionist, Women’s Coalition and United Kingdom Unionist assembly members to work together for everyone in the area.

But the Alliance Party Chairperson also pointed out that the North Down assembly members must work harder to remove what, she says is, the “gold coast” image of the borough.

Mrs. Bell insists that if the borough’s assembly members strive to improve the image of the borough – then the possibility of more economic investment will be greatly enhanced.

Speaking after attending yesterday’s meeting of assembly members at Stormont, Mrs. Bell said that “only time will tell” if her fellow politicians are prepared to work together.

“Whilst recognising that it is our duty to take an interest in the wider problems facing Northern Ireland – we still have an obligation to protect the interests of our constituencies,” she said.

“And as an assembly member for North Down, I will be doing my best to improving the image of the borough and I will be listening to what people have to say.

“Many people throughout Northern Ireland often refer to this constituency as the ‘gold coast’ but this is totally wrong and totally inaccurate.

“It might be a more prosperous area compared to other parts of Northern Ireland but it still needs more investment.

“I raised this matter with delegates from the US Presidential team when they visited Northern Ireland last week. However, I will be still pressing from more economic investment when the assembly reconvenes on Monday,” added Mrs. Bell.

THE six seats that the Alliance Party won in June’s Assembly election have created a significant ‘centre’ grouping the new body between Unionism and Nationalism.

This group has an enormous contribution to make in trying to hold the Agreement together, and taking up the challenge of building a more liberal and non-sectarian Northern Ireland.

The elections were however somewhat disappointing for Alliance. They demonstrated the ‘swings and arrows’ of STV.

Only a few hundred votes either way could have produce anything from 5 to 9 seats. Eight or nine seats would have guaranteed an Alliance seat in the new power sharing Executive.

Alliance polled 6.5 per cent of the vote, similar to our level of support in the 1996 elections that led to the Talks.

Then people voted for their own ‘side’ to fight their corner in the Talks; sadly it seems that voters still believe that it is possible to make things work by bolstering their own tribe to represent their interests.

The results show the enormity of the task of creating a realignment in politics. That task will now fall to the Alliance Party under a new leader.

Lord Alderdice, having led the Party for eleven years, has decided to step down. Since doing so, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam, has appointed him to act as the Presiding Officer of the new Northern Ireland Assembly.

Sean Neeson, former Chief Whip of the party and spokesman on European issues has been elected to serve as interim leader of the party until a full leadership election is held in September.