Michelle Gildernew backs John O’Dowd

From the BBC’s Stephen Walker

Ms Gildernew said she believes Mr O’Dowd has the right qualities to become Sinn Féin’s number two.

She said: “I think John has the skill-set that potentially we need coming into this next phase of the struggle for Irish freedom and bringing about an Ireland of equals.

“That is no disrespect at all to Michelle who I have worked with really well and have an awful lot of time for.

“I just think John has potential. I think the fact we are having this competition is healthy.”

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Ashcroft poll on support the backstop, reunification and party leaders

Lord Ashcroft has released the findings of his poll surveying Northern Ireland voters about their attitudes towards a border poll, the backstop and the various party leaders. 

Border Poll

He says about this

In my poll, 45 per cent said that they would vote to stay in the UK, and 46 per cent said they would choose to leave and join the Republic of Ireland – a lead of 51 per cent to 49 per cent for unification when we exclude don’t knows and those who say they would not vote.


The backstop

He says about these findings;

Overall, a quarter of Northern Ireland voters agree that the backstop “is not ideal, but it is an acceptable compromise for getting Brexit done without the risk of a hard border”. Only 15 per cent of unionists take this view. Nearly eight in ten unionists believe the backstop “separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in unacceptable ways, and the government should not agree to any deal that includes it.”

Party Leaders


He says about this;

Asked how they felt about various political leaders, voters as a whole put the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long at the top of the list, with Ireland’s Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, second and Boris Johnson – who scores higher marks among unionists than Arlene Foster – in third place overall. Jeremy Corbyn scores highest among nationalists, who give him the third highest marks behind Long and Varadkar.

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Arlene Foster “we must engage with those of a nationalist background”

DUP Leader, Arlene Foster spoke at an event titled Vision for Unionism: Beyond 2021.

First, we must engage with any, and all, supporters of the Union, regardless of whether we hold fundamentally different views on party, policy or society.

Today at this initial event, we talk amongst the DUP, but this is only the opening stage of this work and from this afternoon on, we must go out, talk and listen to other Unionists. We must find areas of common interest and common cause to work for the common good of Unionism.

People’s party political labels or beliefs will not hold us back from engaging.

Unionism must earn the votes of as broad a coalition as possible. Some may be Unionists of the very smallest u, and some may not even consider themselves unionists at all.

The talents and energies of all must be harnessed.

Second, we must engage Northern Ireland’s minority ethnic and new communities. Multi-generational ethnic communities became an intrinsic part of Northern Ireland. This diversity has been augmented by the larger migrations of the last twenty years.

Many came even in our most torrid days. More came as we built and enjoyed our richly deserved peace. They came to make their own contribution to our renewal. They have chosen to make Northern Ireland their home, some as part of their British dream. How some were treated, too often was a source of shame rather than pride. Minority ethnic participation in our politics as representatives or voters remains disproportionately low. How can we do more to help involve, integrate and celebrate how these citizens of Northern Ireland enrich our society?

Third, we must engage with those of a nationalist background. This is the strand of work that will be treated with the greatest scepticism, and will require the longest-term commitment, a generational commitment. We are not planting seeds for Unionism in the hope of a quick harvest. We are planting oaks to grow deep roots, and it is future generations, who will reap the benefit of our work.

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Civic society groups launch a campaign opposing a No Deal Brexit outcome

Civic society groups from across a range of sectors in Northern Ireland have launched a campaign opposing a No Deal Brexit outcome. The No To No Deal campaign, which already has the support of several trade unions, NGO’s, charities and umbrella bodies, is calling on the UK Government to avoid a No Deal given what they see as the dire consequences of such an outcome for Northern Ireland.

The campaign, which launched on Monday 2nd September, is asking civic society groups to sign up to a common statement opposed to No Deal but also encourages members of the public to show their support and contribute evidence about No Deal impacts through the campaign’s social media channels.

NICVA Chief Executive, Seamus McAleavey said;

“NICVA, along with civic organisations, have consistently called for a no deal Brexit to be taken off the table. It is well evidenced that crashing out of the European Union without a deal is the worst possible option, the implications of which will be felt heaviest by people here in Northern Ireland. It can and must be avoided.”

Kevin Hanratty, Director of the Human Rights Consortium outlined that, “This campaign is about bringing together the many voices of civic society and the public who have clearly and consistently articulated the many reasons why a No Deal Brexit would be a disaster for Northern Ireland. For us, there is a clear risk to hard won rights protections, but for others it may be something different. The unifying element is that all of those voices are saying No To No Deal.”

Patricia McKeown, Regional Secretary of UNISON said, “A No Deal UK exit from the EU would be disastrous for workers, their families and communities across Northern Ireland. The risk of a no deal exit is only increasing after Boris Johnson’s outrageous move to close Parliament. Regardless of the political chaos unfolding at Westminster, the trade union movement and our allies across civic society will remain steadfast in demanding the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and our member’s rights and livelihoods. We will not accept a No Deal crash out, with no protections for our peace agreement and which will lead to a return of a border across the island of Ireland.”

Robert Murtagh, President of NUS-USI added that, “It is crucial that we prevent a no-deal and all the devastating impacts it would have on Northern Ireland. A no-deal outcome must be stopped so that NI doesn’t lose cross-border student mobility, EU-funded apprenticeship places, Erasmus+ student opportunities, access to EU research funding and recognition of qualifications. Students and young people, many of whom were born after the Good Friday Agreement deserve hope, not a future of lost opportunities as a result of a no-deal Brexit.”

The campaigns website is here; www.NoToNoDeal.org

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