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Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention Report
- Appendix 1 Party Manifestos



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Text: Northern Ireland Office (NIO) ... Page Compiled: Brendan Lynn

NORTHERN IRELAND CONSTITUTIONAL
CONVENTION

REPORT

Together with the Proceedings of the Convention
and other Appendices


APPENDIX 1

PARTY MANIFESTOS

 

I     UNITED ULSTER UNIONIST COALITION MANIFESTO

ULSTER IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

The people of Ulster have consistently demonstrated by a large majority through the ballot box that SO IT SHALL REMAIN.

Peace, stability and prosperity in Ulster cannot be achieved without a restoration of democratic government in a form acceptable to the largest possible number of people throughout the community. Having already seen the failure of an effort to impose an unworkable and unacceptable constitution, we approach the opportunity afforded by the Constitutional Convention with a deep sense of our responsibility to all the people of Northern Ireland to put forward plans for future government which we regard as fair and workable.

 

Our proposals are:

FULL REPRESENTATION IN THE PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

Ulster ought to have parity of representation in the United Kingdom Parliament. On the standard of the representation of Scotland this would mean an increase from 12 to at least 21 seats. The number of constituencies as well as their boundaries should be decided by the judicial Commission.

Parliamentary representation for Ulster must always be on the same basis as for any other part of the United Kingdom enjoying devolution.

Forces are at work throughout the United Kingdom which aim at devolution. No doubt we shall see a new system of government emerge. This new system while giving a large degree of power to the regions can be so structured as to strengthen rather than weaken the unity of the United Kingdom.

We are dedicated to maintain that unity.

A DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PARLIAMENT WITH A SYSTEM OF GOVERN MENT BROADLY IN LINE WITH THE PROVISIONS TO BE MADE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL DEVOLUTION IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AS A WHOLE.

It is only in the context of a fully efficient regional democratic system of government that we can tackle the urgent current problems in Agriculture, Industry, Employment, Housing, Education, Health and most important of all, Law and Order. Our separation by sea from the British mainland and our distance from the centre of United Kingdom government render an accessible administration of our own essential to our peace and well being. Neither a dictatorship, a bureaucracy nor a county council can provide an adequate substitute.

We see no reason for any special form of franchise for Northern Ireland different from that in use elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

However we are prepared to consider ways of giving to significant but scattered minorities representation which they would otherwise fail to achieve. A modification of the "List system" might be examined in this context, whereby most members would be elected for single member constituencies on a straight vote and the balance drawn from party lists in proportion to the votes cast. We reject as inherently undemocratic any artificial device for giving any political party or interest a larger share of representation, influence or power than that to which its electoral support entitles it.

We believe that the traditional British democratic parliamentary system is essentially the right one.

The Leader of the Party with a majority in the House would be entrusted to form a government. If no party has such a majority then the Leader who can secure a majority through a freely negotiated coalition would be entrusted with the task.

We are ready to discuss ways in which the available talent of all parties can be given wider opportunities for participation in administration and parliamentary decision-making than in the past. We would propose powerful all-party back-bench committees which could provide special opportunities for any minority group in relation to legislation and the scrutiny of government administration. But we do not believe that such opportunities can in any way be allowed to exceed or distort the mandate given by an electoral majority.

The Ulster Parliament and Government should be responsible for policing and internal security.

Accordingly, the existing security forces should be adjusted with the police force taking the main role.

While the R.U.C. must be firmly under the control of Parliament, there is no reason why an administrative structure could not be devised which would allow greater public participation leading to a strengthening of general confidence.

ULSTERíS LINKS WITH THE CROWN MUST BE MAINTAINED AND STRENGTHENED

The laws of Ulster would be enacted by the Queen in Parliament and the Queen would have to be represented by a non-political person appointed by her to perform such constitutional and ceremonial duties as she is not able to perform in person.

Her Majestyís Government in the United Kingdom should continue to be responsible to parliament for all functions of government in Northern Ireland which are not at any time transferred.

THE RESTORATION OF DEMOCRATIC LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The present system of local government based as it is on bureaucratic centralisation and nominated boards, is unsatisfactory and must be substantially modified. Until the degree of devolved government in Ulster is settled it is impossible to put forward firm proposals.

Democratic local government automatically involves shares responsibility and participation as between majority and minority or minorities because in local government the Councils themselves are the executives. All parties should be represented on committees as nearly as may be in proportion to their strength on the Council.

 

NO COUNCIL OF IRELAND

We cannot accept any imposed institutionalised association with the Irish Republic

In 1925 the Government of Northern Ireland entered into an agreement with the Dublin Government in which those governments declared their resolve "mutually to aid one another in a spirit of neighbourly comradeship". In this spirit we have always desired and still desire to act towards the Republic. We deeply regret that the good will which that agreement embodied was allowed to fade, when the Irish Republic laid claim to sovereignty over our whole territory and has from time to time allowed its own territory to be used as a base and sanctuary for terrorists.

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

Our proposals take into account the demands for devolution in other parts of the United Kingdom but we are concerned that any future arrangement for devolved government within the Kingdom should be properly safeguarded by a Bill of Constitutional Rights which would establish the relationship between the Westminster Parliament and each devolved Parliament and would also guarantee that all citizens are equal under the law and are equally subject to the law.

AFTER SIX YEARS OF TERROR AND TURMOIL OUR TASK IS TO REBUILD THE INSTITUTIONS OF THIS PROVINCE.

If the task is to be done successfully then the foundations must be secure. They must be based firmly on democratic principles. They cannot be based on expediency or on shifty compromise. The Institutions must be securely buttressed by adequate resources, by an effective system of Policing and by the support or assent of an overwhelming majority of people.

 

WE BELIEVE THE INSTITUTIONS OUTLINED ABOVE DESERVE THE SUPPORT OF ALL.

 


II     SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC AND LABOUR PARTY MANIFESTO

SPEAK WITH STRENGTH

 

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this election is to elect members to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention. The Convention is not a Parliament nor a Legislative Assembly. It is in reality a conference table. Its basic purpose is "to consider what provision for the Government of Northern Ireland is likely to command the most widespread acceptance throughout the whole community".

In putting forward a strong team of 30 candidates spread across the twelve constituencies the S.D.L.P. is committing itself wholeheartedly to the task of ensuring that the Convention fulfils its objective.

 

AN EXPERIENCED TEAM

The S.D.L.P. was founded only in 1970 yet it has packed a wealth of experience into its short life. Founded against the most difficult possible background, a background of violence, death and destruction, the S.D.L.P. has built a highly organised political party with members and branches in all parts of Northern Ireland and has provided representation for the people at all levels.

Committed to achievement of change by political means alone it has provided a strong political instrument with which to achieve that change. It has ended a great deal of the splintering and personality divisions which have for so long been a force for instability in Northern Ireland. It has fought elections in all parts of Northern Ireland and has given every elector irrespective of creed or class the opportunity to vote for its policies. It is doing so again in this election.

The S.D.LP. has more than 80 councillors throughout Northern Ireland and has played a major role in establishing a better community spirit through its work in many of the Council areas. It has 19 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, who have shown already by their Constituency work, their full participation in the Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive, their total commitment to and willingness to work for, the benefit of the people of the North. The S.D.L.P. has proved its worth both as a representative team and a well-disciplined body of negotiators. In spite of the difficulties and deep emotions stirred up by the events of the past five years it has held tenaciously and consistently to its point of view that political means alone will resolve the problems of Northern Ireland and to the principles on which a solution must be based.

With this record of hard work, consistency and experience behind it, the S.D.L.P. puts forward a strong united team of 30 candidates in this election. Individual personalities and splinter groups are ineffective at a conference table; a united team, as experience has shown, is the only effective team.

THE WIDER DIMENSION

The Northern Ireland problem has its greatest effects on the people of Northern Ireland itself but its implications are wider. Its effects, as history and experience have shown are not confined to Northern Ireland itself. Events in the Republic of Ireland and in Britain have repercussions within Northern Ireland and events in Northern Ireland have repercussions in the Republic and in Britain.

There is an Irish Dimension to the problem. There is a British Dimension to the problem. Any solution must take account of both. The principles on which our solution to the problem is based, take account of both dimensions, as well as the most important Northern Ireland dimension itself and do in fact command the most widespread acceptance among the people of these islands.

In addition, whether examined from a political or an economic aspect, they offer the people of the North the maximum benefit available.

THE POLITICAL ASPECT

Partnership between our two traditions in Northern Ireland and between both parts of Ireland has long been the cornerstone of the S.D.L.P. approach to a solution. Power-sharing in government and the institutionalised recognition of the Irish Dimension are the tangible expressions of partnership. We regard these as the first essential steps in ensuring that we have a system of government to which all the people of Northern Ireland will give their loyalty. Eventually, working together, developing trust, confidence and understanding between two traditions, a much more normal political society will evolve, based on normal political divisions.

If we are to solve our problems peacefully then we must recognise the reality of life as it is and not as we would like it to be. The reality is that there is a deep division between our two traditions which has left us with the peculiar political situation that is here today. The past approach of each tradition, based on pursuit of victory for its point of view, has always resulted in conflict, death and destruction and in a deepening of bitterness and division. If we are ever to break out of the vicious cycle we need a new approach; not one which has ulterior ultimate objectives but one which, while respecting and recognising the aspirations and culture of each tradition, allows for the freely agreed evolution of both institutions and attitudes which in the end will produce the normal political society that we all want to see.

In our view only the path of partnership will lead to it. The prejudices, the bitterness, the hatred and fears can only be eradicated by both traditions working together and demonstrating their joint concern for all of the people. In time this will produce an evolution towards new attitudes, expressed in new institutions and in a new stability - all evolved in agreement and trust.

But we must begin at the beginning and the beginning is today. Today we are divided and distrustful. The only way forward therefore is to accept these differences and go forward on the basis of a fully agreed partnership which accepts the traditions and attitudes of people as they are and without seeking to coerce them. Such a partnership, based initially on differences, an in time evolve to a more natural political situation. But it will be one that will have been built by the hard work, co-operation and agreement of all. Trust will replace distrust and new horizons will emerge, made possible by the energy and applications of all our people working in harness. It is no easy task but the challenge is there and we in the S.D.L.P. stand ready to face it.

A political system - a system of government - is created so that people can live together in harmony and peace. The best security that can be provided for the people of Northern Ireland is through a system of government that commands the loyalty of all and that all will defend. The police service of such a system will have the full support and respect of all. The creation of math a system is the objective of the Convention. It is the objective that the S.D.L.P. will strive for And we will not have the slightest hesitation in pledging our full support and loyalty to the police service of a fully agreed system of government.

The achievement of an agreed system of government is the surest way to end the symptoms of our sickness which has caused the greatest suffering - violence, murder, internment, injustice.

THE ECONOMIC ASPECT

Partnership institutions can bring great economic benefits to the people of Northern Ireland. The basic necessity to allow any community to tackle its problems effectively has always been missing in Northern Ireland - a stable system of government. The lack of it and the efforts to secure one have obscured and drawn attention away from the serious problems that continue to affect all our people - unemployment, emigration, housing, agriculture, etc. Their continued existence only emphasises the urgency of the task of the Convention.

From an economic viewpoint, as well as a political one, power-sharing and an Irish Dimensions offer the best framework in which we can effectively tackle these problems.

It is also generally accepted that Northern Ireland will be much better off economically if its affairs are administered by the people of Northern Ireland themselves. The existence of a local assembly and administration are clearly far superior from an economic point of than Direct Rule from elsewhere. This is even more evident and essential if we remain within the E.E.C. What is required is that such an assembly and administration have the whole. hearted support and loyalty of both sections of the Northern Ireland community. This is best achieved in our view by ensuring that both sections share in the administration of Northern Ireland at government level. In this way the talents of all our people can be used for the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland as a whole and our energies can be used constructively and in partnership instead of destructively and in conflict.

Apart from being the expression of the aspirations and traditions of a large section of the community there are also clear economic advantages to be gained from the Irish Dimension by the people of Northern Ireland. This is even more true if examined in the context of Europe as a whole. It is clearly to our advantage to have a joint approach to specific problems such as the planning of border areas, the development and study of our energy needs and resources, our transport system both internal and external, our tourist industry and our agricultural industry.

Similarly with the British Dimension. That the rights, aspirations and traditions that it expresses must be respected goes without saying. There are also clear economic advantages in present circumstances to the people of Northern Ireland deriving from the British Dimension, advantages that are obvious and do not need elaboration.

From an economic viewpoint therefore it is clear that the way forward that will ensure, not only political stability but the best economic benefits available to us is based on four clear principles.

1. A powerful and representative Northern Ireland Assembly.

2. An administration on which both sections of the community participate to the full.

3. The recognition and acceptance of the Irish Dimension.

4. The recognition and acceptance of the British Dimension.

THE CHALLENGE

It is clear that the approach and policies of the S.D.L.P. is a challenge to all to break the shackles of the past. If we are to succeed, no shibboleth, no traditional attitude, no handed. down political dogma must be left unchallenged or unexamined. Most of them have failed us in the past and will fail us again.

We in the S.D.L.P. are prepared to meet the challenge and given the proper leadership we believe that the people of Northern Ireland are ready too.

 


III     ALLIANCE PARTY MANIFESTO

TOGETHER WE STAND

 

The Alliance Party is an organisation of people with different religious faiths, different social classes and different cultural backgrounds. We have two great things which unite us. Our first loyalty is to all the people of Northern Ireland, either because we were born or bred here or because we have voluntarily chosen to settle in Northern Ireland and to identify with it. Secondly, we have proved that whatever our differences of background, we can work out common policies by discussion and democratic agreement.

We are not at this stage putting forward a detailed blueprint for a system of government in Northern Ireland. Any new constitution must be worked out by discussion and debate in honest realisation of the fears and hopes of other people. This is the only realistic attitude for a party which is determined to try and make the Convention work.

Alliance believes in devolved government for Northern Ireland. We want a system of workable local administration to be returned as soon as possible. For that reason, we are determined to achieve practical results from the Convention.

PARTNERSHIP IN GOVERNMENT

Alliance is committed to the principle that any future administration in Northern Ireland must involve both sections of our divided community at all levels in the Government of our province. Various methods of achieving this have been used in a number of countries. All of these methods must be carefully examined by the Convention.

It is quite clear that no system of local administration can work (if at all) unless it involves and has the support of substantial proportions of both sections of our divided people.

In our view, any significant grouping, whatever its aspirations, is entitled to be involved in the administration of the Province, provided that it accepts the state, abides by the law and supports the institutions of government.

THE LINK

Alliance supports the constitutional position of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom. We know that this belief is shared by the overwhelming majority of our people and that provocative debate about it has been the primary cause of all our most fundamental troubles. The link is in the best economic and social interests of all the people of Northern Ireland, and we will maintain that only the people of Northern Ireland have the right to decide any change by voting in a referendum.

LAW AND ORDER

No democratic society can exist without law and order. Alliance has been, since its formation, a strong supporter of the firm and impartial application of the Rule of Law and a constant critic of the "wait and see" policies of successive governments. We make no apology. We are convinced that peace, security and prosperity will never come to our Province until the law is rigorously enforced in all areas and until every citizen is afforded its protection. Policies such as internment are counter-productive and serve only to undermine public confidence in law and order. We view with contempt, those politicians who have entered into pacts with paramilitary organisations, whether republican or loyalist, and who have given tacit support to criminal conspiracies of evil men in the name of patriotism.

Alliance support for the Rule of Law in all areas and for the suppression of gangsterism will be total, continuous and uncompromising.

THE POLICE

The key to the defeat of the murderers and gangsters who prey on our people is effective policing in all areas. Successive British Governments have failed to come to grips with this reality. It cannot be said that there is any positive policing policy for Northern Ireland.

The Alliance Party is determined to pursue its objectives of achieving effective and impartial policing in all areas. We reject the concept that ever again should the police force be subject to the whims of party politics whether such politics are based on the old system of one party perpetual rule, or a new form of partnership government. We will continue to press for a new high-powered Police Authority to control the R.U.C. and for an Independent Complaints Tribunal.

DEVOLVED GOVERNMENT

Alliance strongly supports the concept of a strong legislative Assembly or Parliament for Northern Ireland, elected by Proportional Representation (S.T.V.). Such a legislative body should have real and effective powers to deal with the major social and economic matters affecting the Province.

Alliance is committed to the maintenance of the principle of parity in welfare benefits throughout the United Kingdom. As citizens of the United Kingdom, the people of Northern are entitled to equality of social services.

In our view, any new legislative body based on the principle of community partnership should have a considerable measure of control over law and order, criminal law and legal administration in the Province.

REPRESENTATION AT WESTMINSTER

The Alliance Party believes that the basis for representation for Northern Ireland at Westminster should be the United Kingdom average for electors. This would increase representation for this Province to 19 or 20 members.

In our view, these should be elected on the basis of Proportional Representation (S.T.V.), which is the fairest system. We favour the introduction of this system of voting throughout the United Kingdom.

It is hypocritical for a Westminster Government to deny adequate representation to Northern Ireland while proposing Assemblies for Scotland and Wales and allowing them to maintain their existing number of MPs.

RELATIONS WITH THE SOUTH

We accept that for practical co-operation between North and South on many issues which are of common concern to both parts of Ireland, not least in the field of security. Alliance believes that better relations between North and South would result in social and economic co-operation which would be of great advantage to all our citizens. But co-operation can only be based on mutual trust and respect.

The present constitutional claim by the Republic of sovereignty over Northern Ireland is a formidable barrier against better relations. Failure to agree to extradition for politically. motivated offences of violence is a poor basis upon which to ask for friendship.

BILL OF RIGHTS

The Alliance Party will be pressing for a Bill of Rights in the future Constitution of Northern Ireland. Such a Bill of Rights must guarantee equality of citizenship to every person in the Province and must be enforceable through the courts of law.

 


IV     UNIONIST PARTY OF NORTHERN IRELAND MANIFESTO

UNION AND PARTNERSHIP

THE UNION - FIRST AND FOREMOST

"The maintenance of the Union is regarded by the Unionist Party as fundamental to the I preservation of civil and religious liberty and to the future prosperity of Ulster".

"We pledge ourselves to take whatever steps are necessary to defend this position. British citizenship and British citizenship alone can bring to Ulster the benefits the Unionist Party seeks and the community deserves". (Unionist Assembly Manifesto Ď73, Peace, Order and Good Government.)

We will use all democratic means at our disposal to ensure that Northern Ireland remains within the United Kingdom.

All other decisions we shall take in the light of this, our solemn commitment to preserve the Union, a commitment we inherit from James Craig and Edward Carson.

Our links with Britain are the results of our common ancestry, education, language and history. It is to us an incidental benefit that is is to our economic advantage that we continue to maintain our close relationship with Britain.

There are stresses and strains at times, between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, between Parliament and people, as there are on the ties between the members of any family, but, as in a family, these only serve to temper and to strengthen our bonds, and our resolve to remain British.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

"There shall be elected and held in Northern Ireland a Convention for the purpose of considering what provision for the government of Northern Ireland is likely to command the most widespread acceptance throughout the community there". - (N.I. Act 1974 Sec. 2(17)).

"Any pattern of government must be acceptable to the people of the United Kingdom as a whole and to the Parliament at Westminster. Citizenship confers not only rights and privileges but also obligations". - (White Paper Cmnd. 5675, 1974. Par. 45(b)).

"The Constitutional Convention is not a permanent, governmental or legislative body. It is not an Assembly or Parliament. It is a body elected to seek within a specific term an agreed solution to a specific problem". (N.I. Discussion Paper No. 2).

The only matter which can be discussed by the Convention is the pattern of government for Northern Ireland.

The energies of the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland will be directed in the Convention, towards sensible and responsible initiatives to reach such agreement on the form of administration for Ulster which can attract the most widespread acceptance in this Province, and can also commend itself to the British Parliament and people.

We will continue our pursuit of peace, order and good government for Northern Ireland.

THE PATTERN OF GOVERNMENT

"We are convinced that, whatever else may be left open for discussion, there must be a strong regional Parliament and government in Northern Ireland". (Towards the FutureóA Unionist Blueprint and Peace, Order and Good Government).

It is our firm belief that the most acceptable pattern of administration for the people of Northern Ireland is a regional government.

While we can envisage no future outside the United Kingdom, it has now been amply demonstrated that Direct Rule cannot answer the needs of the Province.

This failure stems from the special nature of and diversity of our problems, and from the scarcity of Parliamentary time at Westminster to consider and discuss them.

The re-organised local government of Northern Ireland has been designed for, and is incomplete without, a central administration in the Province.

On this central administration rests the responsibility of overseeing such important functions as Housing and Planning, Roads and the Environment, and the Personal Health and Social Services.

Local Government is only now beginning to recover from the disturbance caused by re-organisation, and the people must not be subjected to another period of frustration and lack of service, such as would follow a further reshaping and re-organisation.

It must however continue to develop, and to integrate with the new pattern of government, to not only give the people a democratic influence on decisions affecting them, but also an efficient service in dealing with day to day problems.

THE QUALITIES REQUIRED OF THE ADMINISTRATION

While it would not be proper to seek to limit or to pre-empt the discussions in the Convention, yet there are certain requirements which the U.P.N.I. feels should be met by any proposed pattern of administration.

These are:

1. The form of government recommended by the Convention must not only serve to maintain the position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, but be capable of achieving dignity and standing among the nations of the world.
2. It must so commend itself to the British Parliament and people that they will be prepared to uphold it against criticism and attack.
3. While, of necessity, it must attract widespread support within Northern Ireland, its continuing existence must be safeguarded from the threat of any minority grouping of our people.
4. The administration must have responsibility for R.U.C. which must provide effective policing in every area of Northern Ireland.
5. A new administration must accelerate the development of our existing industry and agriculture, and the establishment of new industries, so that full and profitable employment may be provided for our people.
6. Housing must be a priority, to satisfy the needs of our increasing population and their desire for improving standards of living.
7.Above all else administration must bring freedom from fear, that all may go unmolested about their business.

Paramilitary groups must not be allowed to terrorise either within or without their own communities. The rule of law must be restored, for that alone can bring freedom to all the people.

POWERS OF THE ADMINISTRATION

"If the concept of devolution is to be meaningful, we believe that the powers devolved must be sufficient to allow the public representatives of Northern Ireland to gain the trust and keep the respect of their electorate". (Peace, Order and Good Government.)

The new administration should have as a minimum those powers which were devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive.

(a) Internal Security.

The remote control of the police from Westminster undermines the credibility of devolved government, and leads to poorer administration and reduced efficiency within the force.

Control of internal security is basic for any efficient government.

(b) Full Legislative Devolution.

The standing of devolved Government is reduced by having an elected politician placed between it and the Monarch. The measures enacted by the administration should be passed directly into law by the Queen through her own representative in the Province.

The Secretary of State will continue to have a most important function as the voice of Northern Ireland at the highest level of the Westminster Government. He must continue to be a senior Government Minister so that our interests can be properly represented in the Cabinet.

PARTICIPATION IN THE ADMINISTRATION

Within Northern Ireland there are those who aspire to a United Ireland, and also those who aspire to an Independent Ulster.

We are prepared to agree that representatives from either of these minority groups play a responsible role in Government if they are prepared to work for the benefit of all the people in Northern Ireland, and if they will openly support:

(a) The right of the majority in Northern Ireland to decide their own future using the mechanism of the simple majority vote, as in the Border Poll.

(b) law and order, and those forces legally appointed to maintain them.

There can be no place in Government for those who seek to obtain their ends by violence, or for those who refuse to support the forces charged with the maintenance of the laws enacted by the Government, or by the sovereign Parliament at Westminster.

 

THE BRITISH AND IRISH DIMENSIONS

The basic causes of the continuing unrest in Northern Ireland are fear and uncertainty about the future.

This is a problem which can only be dealt with by London and Dublin.

If any doubt exists about our position in the United Kingdom there is an incentive for the I.R.A. to continue its attacks. There is also an incentive for the majority to prepare for defensive action.

Westminster must restate the guarantees we received in 1949 and 1973, so that the uncertainty is ended. The British Government must make it clear that Northern Ireland will remain part of the United Kingdom.

  • Words alone are not sufficient, there must be visible evidence to convince our people.
  • The strength of our position must be demonstrated by an increase in the number of Northern Ireland members at Westminster to at least 20.
  • To give a greater feeling of stability, the intervals between Border Polls should be increased to 25 years.

Because Dublin was unable to fulfil its part of the bargain on security, extradition and recognition of Northern Ireland, the Sunningdale Agreement could not be ratified.

Though the Council of Ireland was originally proposed by Unionists, we believe it is counter-productive to the development of friendly co-operation on social and economic matters between the Republic and Northern Ireland, and have discarded the concept.

The existence of Articles 2 and 3 in the Constitution of the Republic militated against the trust necessary for the establishment of the Council of Ireland, and made it impossible for the Dublin Government to take the necessary steps on recognition and cross-border security.

International agreements to which Eire is a signatory must be examined so that extradition can be introduced and the shielding for politically motivated criminals brought to an end.

These developments in the British and Irish Dimension will remove the uncertainty in Northern Ireland, remove the hope sustaining the I.R.A. and those pressures which are driving the people of Ulster farther apart.

THE WAY AHEAD

The Unionist Party of Northern Ireland pledges itself to work towards those forms of government which will keep Ulster firmly within the United Kingdom, and which will involve all sections of our people in working for peace and progress.

We will work for the freedom and happiness of all the people of Northern Ireland, so that they may be content with their place in the Union, and their membership of the British family.

 


 

V     NORTHERN IRELAND LABOUR PARTY MANIFESTO

SUPPORT THE LINK

WHERE N.I.L.P. STANDS

The forthcoming election for the Northern Ireland Convention will be unique in the history of the British Isles. It will be an election to an Assembly whose only responsibility will be to draw up a new constitution for Northern Ireland.

Our constitution is of vital importance to all of us. It will determine what state we live in, how much freedom we will have, whether we will run our own local affairs as a united people or whether we will continue to live in strife and violence.

The N.I.L.P. has firm ideas on the Constitution.

THE LINK WITH BRITAIN

We believe The Link with Britain is vital. We believe Northern Ireland must stay within the United Kingdom. There arc three reasons in particular why we support the link with Britain: -

1. As part of the United Kingdom Northern Ireland people enjoy the advantage of living in one of the most advanced and progressive countries in the world.
2. As part of the United Kingdom the people of Northern Ireland secure all the advantages - such as the Health Service and the Welfare State - which the British Labour and Trade Union Movement have won since the war.
3. Northern Ireland is part of the British economy. Over eighty per cent. of our trade is with Britain and being part of a much larger, richer state has provided Northern Ireland over the years with the extra money needed to modernise our economy and stand up to terrorist attack.

The link with Britain is in the best interest of the people of Northern Ireland. We reject any policies based on separation from Britain such as U.D.I. or republicanism. As a part of the British Trade Union and Labour Movement we shall defend that link in the interest of all the working people of Northern Ireland.

WHAT SORT OF GOVERNMENT?

The N.L.I.P. seeks to overcome the division between the two communities in Northern Ireland and to create a system of government to which all the citizens of Northern Ireland can give their allegiance.

In the immediate future partnership can best be achieved by the political leaders of the two communities voluntarily agreeing to accept the constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom and agreeing to share responsibility for the administration of the Province.

However the N.I.L.P. believes that no section of the people should be given the right of veto over the establishment of regional government structures, provided such structures enable all sections of political opinion to play a full and meaningful part in public life. Such sharing of responsibility will enable all citizens of Northern Ireland to develop a sense of identification with the state and its institutions of government. This will take the question of Northern Irelandís existence out of day-to-day political debate and allow for the emergence of political debate based on social and economic issues. But without such identification real progress to democratic regional government will be impossible.

THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT

Departmental Committees

The N.I.L.P. believes in "open" government. The government should have as few secrets as possible from the public. We propose therefore that the work of each government department should be supervised by a committee made up of members of the Assembly. Each Party should be represented on committee in proportion to its strength. Every committee would thus reflect the Assembly in miniature and like the Assembly would have a pro-Union majority. Each committee would elect its own Chairman.

The Executive

Together the Chairmen of the various departmental committees should constitute the Executive or Cabinet. As any coalition of parties which is to form a government would have a majority of the seats on each committee the government would be able to secure the election of its nominees to office. Under this system members of all religions, or none, would be enabled to take part at any level in the government and the administration. In fact it would be the central aim of such a system to establish an agreed system of government to unite the community.

THE POWERS OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND GOVERNMENT

The powers of the Northern Ireland Government should be under two broad headings. First of all the N.l. Government requires the same wide range of powers which the NI. Assembly had in economic affairs. A great deal needs to be done locally in industrial promotion, planning, agriculture, administration and development of social services, environment, tourism, housing and transport. Secondly the Northern Ireland Government will require powers in those areas which have in the past been contentious and divisive but which must be tackled by our people together if we are to build a united community. Such areas include education, policing and community relations.

The N.I.L.P. believes emphatically that there should be uniform legislation throughout the United Kingdom on all matters of personal and civil rights and liberties. Equally we fully accept that major economic planning and development are the responsibility of the Westminster government which must accept responsibility for branches of British heavy industry - such as the shipyard and the aircraft factory - which are located in Northern Ireland.

WESTMINSTER REPRESENTATION

Northern Ireland is under-represented at Westminster. This makes the vote of every Ulster-man of less value than the vote of any other British citizen. The second class status of Ulster voters must end and Northern Ireland must be granted its rightful share of representation at Westminster.

NORTH-SOUTH RELATIONS

The relationship between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic must be based on equality of esteem and mutual respect. Unfortunately such a relationship is impossible while the Irish Republic maintains its territorial claim to Northern Ireland expressed in Articles 2 and 3 of its constitution. A mutually beneficial relationship will only be possible after the repeal of those Articles of the Irish Republicís constitution and when the Irish Republic honours its obligations under extradition treaties.

North-South co-operation in areas of mutual advantage should proceed without any institutional structure. Should the United Kingdom remain within the E.E.C. the N.I.L.P. is in favour of tri-partite inter-governmental consultation on E.E.C. affairs.

INTERNMENT, POLICE AND SECURITY

While accepting the right of a democratic state under terrorist attack to resort to special measures to defend the population the N.I.L.P. is opposed to the policy of internment without trial as it has operated in Northern Ireland and we call for its immediate ending.

Throughout the crisis we have demanded consistently that the Provisional I.R.A., and all others engaged in violence, cease their campaigns of murder, mutilation and destruction, to enable the British Government to make the necessary responses. We shall continue to support all reconciliation initiatives likely to produce a genuine peace in our community.

The N.I.L.P. calls for the immediate implementation of schemes to rehabilitate released prisoners as an urgent requirement to assist these people to resume a normal role in society.

The progressive reduction in the role of the British Army, which is desired by all sections of the community, must be accompanied by the development of effective local police and security structures, under local control and fully supported by all parties participating in the Northern ireland Government. No Northern Ireland Government will be possible unless all parties in the government are agreed on security policy.

A DEMOCRATIC SOLUTION

The N.I.L.P. has always held to the view that the people of Northern Ireland must determine their future through the ballot box. Provided the people are allowed to express themselves freely through the ballot box no group or organisation, either within Northern Ireland or outside it, can be permitted to override the democratically expressed views of the people of Northern Ireland by violence, boycott, economic blackmail or industrial action.

THE CASE FOR N.I.L.P. REPRESENTATION

Northern Ireland Labour believes that this Election must be used to unite the Province.

We believe that the Union with Britain must be preserved - without that Union our civil liberties and our living standards cannot be guaranteed. But we reject the continued leadership of landlords, businessmen and lawyers who, Protestant and Catholic alike, arc concerned with their own selfish class interests and would ignore the interests of ordinary people. These men have failed us in the past - they would do so again. The real suffering since 1969 has been borne by ordinary working people. Their case must be heard in the Convention and in any new Ulster Parliament. A strong N.I.L.P. representation in the Convention is the best guarantee that true peace and real progress will follow.

THE KEY TO THE FUTURE

The constitution which your representatives draw up will be vital for the future of every man woman and child in Northern Ireland. But it is not an end in itself It is only the means to an end. Once the constitution is agreed we can begin the building of a United Ulster in which all our people will enjoy and contribute to the full benefits of British citizenship.

 


 

Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention
Report

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