APNI - Alliance Annual Conference 1971
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Ulster Hall, Belfast
REPORT FROM THE
WHEN the Alliance Party was launched, at a Press Conference on Tuesday. 21st April. 1970, only the founders were certain enough of success to envisage something as remarkable as this First Annual Conference, taking place in the Ulster Hall less than 1 2 months later.
Certainly none of those initially hostile to Alliance - or even neutral observers of the political scene - would have made such a forecast, Indeed, many genuinely believed that Alliance would go the way expected of "new" parties and be effectively "dead" within months.
Instead, it has grown, and grown steadily to reach a momentum which, it is now clear, is un-stoppable. This Conference, will, I know, be a dramatic demonstration of that momentum in action.
Such a Conference has, of course, been made possible only because you. who have given your time so unsparingly to the service of the Party, have concentrated all along on the task which has never before been attempted in Northern Ireland, and in which we now know we are succeeding the building up of a complete province - wide party. thoroughly organised, resolute in its political principles, and known by the electorate in every area to be a force capable of challenging for Government in their name and with their interests at heart.
It is with this end always in sight that we have, together. achieved so much that there is space here for only the briefest outline of the Party’s progress. Firstly, we have built the large and complex structure, with all the machinery of democracy, essential to any party capable of forming a Government.
The Alliance Constituency Associations and their Branches, through increasing involvement in local issues, have become well-known and established forces in local life. The Alliance Council, with delegates at present representing our organisations in 43 of the 52 Stormont constituencies, has established itself securely as the supreme governing body of the Party.
The Council, in turn, has finalised the Party’s Constitution and Rules, and elected and recently returned unanimously) a 19 - strong Central Executive and Officers. The Executive, even without its nine sub-committees, has members from each of our six counties.
Arrangements are now agreed, and working smoothly, for the continuous financing of the Party, essential to the long-term planning to which we are committed. At the same time, we continue to place a high priority on the raising of capital for the permanent Alliance Headquarters Building which is already becoming an urgent necessity.
Meanwhile, the rapid expansion of the Party has already produced a Central Headquarters and staff administration considerably more complex and extensive than any previously seen in Northern Ireland. The monthly publication "Alliance Bulletin" aimed principally at members, has given way to a party newspaper "Alliance" which is rapidly making itself evident on newsagents’ counters.
In the field of party policy. Alliance has now proved beyond question that its membership contains more than enough talent to transform an entirely new political philosophy into the vast range of detailed and specific proposals required by an alternative governing party. Policy documents have already been produced and made public on Community Relations, Employment and Industry, Housing, Local Government, Conservation, and Agriculture, with others at present before the party’s Policy Sub-Committee. In each case, the document has been approved. after debate, by the Alliance Council, which has then appointed an expert Working Party to develop and expand it.
Perhaps your greatest achievement, however, has been the Mass Doorstep Canvass, through which electors throughout the length and breadth of Northern Ireland are being made vividly aware not only of the absolute necessity for Alliance, but also that you. the members, are people who care enough to approach the people long before you ask for their votes.
From all this activity, and from the current series of Political Training Schools, it has become quite clear that Alliance will be more than able to provide the candidates, the election agents and the teams of dedicated election workers on which success in the General Election will depend. The people of Northern Ireland will see, for the first time at this Conference today. a body of men and women determined to fulfil their pledge and provide the choice of Government without which there can never be a just and lasting peace in our land.
OF THE PARTY
Elected by the Alliance Council at the Annual General Meeting held in Portadown. March 6th, 1971.
William Barbour (Enniskillen)
Ronnie Boyle (Clifton) Joint Hon.Treasurer
Tony Cinnamond (Windsor)
Mrs. Catherine Condy (Mid Down)
David Cook (Cromac)
Robert Cooper (Antrim) Joint Chairman, Political Committee
Miss Fionnuala Deeny (N. Armagh,
Basil Glass (Windsor) Chairman of the Party
Robin Glendinning (N. Tyrone)
Jim Hendron (Bloomfield)
John Hunter (North Derry
Denis Loretto (Mid Down)
Enda McShane (Mid and West Tyrone)
Oliver Napier (Victoria) Joint Chairman Political Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Party
Hubert Nesbitt (Bangor) Joint, Hon. Treasurer
Sean O’Dwyer (Londonderry)
Michael O’Shea (Larkfield)
Gerald A. Tully (Queen’s University)
Mrs. Joan Tomlin (Carrick)
Anthony Cowdy (Ex-Officio) Publicity Secretary
Mrs. Grace Wilson (Ex-Officio) Acting General Secretary
1. NEGLECT OF THE WEST:
"That this Conference deplores the social and economic neglect of the West by successive Unionist Governments, and pledges an Alliance Government to take vigorous action."
2. A MINIMUM WAGE:
"That this Conference resolves that a minimum wage structure be set up, based on the cost of living index."
3. THE BRITISH SOLDIER:
"That this Conference declares its appreciation of the effort of the British soldier in his endeavour to maintain peace. and to create conditions in which the party. made tip of men and women of all sections of the community. can work to solve Northern Ireland’s problems."
4. BELFAST CORPORATION:
"That this Conference calls on the Government of Northern Ireland to abolish the Belfast Corporation and to replace it with a Development Commission, to enable the enormous social problems facing the city to be dealt with more efficiently than they can he in an out-dated system which is at the mercy of out-dated party politics."
5. SELECTIVE EMPLOYMENT TAX:
"That this Conference believes that the Selective Employment Tax is singularly inappropriate to Northern Ireland and should be abolished here."
1.OO p.m. LUNCH
6. THE "ELEVEN-PLUS":
"That this Conference calls upon the Ministry of Education and education authorities to accept as a just priority the introduction of an educational system that does not require select ion at the age of 11. This Conference, while realising that a change such as this cannot take place instantly. deplores the inaction of responsible bodies, who in spite of overwhelming evidence have seemed to turn their backs on change. We promise that we will devote our energies, after full consultation with parents, teachers and all interested bodies. to devising an educational plan that will not necessitate separation of children at this early age."
7. PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION:
"That this Conference is in favour of the introduction of proportional representation for Northern Ireland parliamentary and local government elections."
(Mid and West Tyrone).
"That in the opinion of this Conference an Alliance Government must take steps to provide the Agriculture Industry with the long-term capital that it so urgently needs, at interest rates which would be related to the earning capacity of the industry."
9. WITHDRAWAL OF ARMS:
"That this Conference calls for the withdrawal of all licences for privately-held arms, rifle clubs, etc., for the duration of this emergency."
10. EQUAL PAY:
"That this Conference supports the principle of equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex, in all circumstances"
11. PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
"That this Conference considers that there should be an immediate inquiry into the operation of public transport, with particular reference to the quality of the services, cost and method of financing them."
12. PLANNING PERMISSION:
"That this Conference resolves that applicants for planning permission should be required to advertise their application in the local press at least four weeks prior to the first hearing of the application by the local planning committee."
13. ADULT EDUCATION:
"That in the opinion of this Conference a Party sub-committee should he convened to consider the possibilities of organising Adult Education Programmes in the depressed areas. with advice centres or opportunities for educational, recreational and social advancement."
5.30 p.m. TEA
Evening Debate on Resolutions
14. LOUGH NEAGH:
"That this Conference believes that the resources anti fisheries of Lough Neagh should be taken into public ownership and given into the charge of the Ministry of Agriculture to manage on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland."
15. HEALTH CHARGES:
"That this Conference condemns the intention of the Westminster Government to increase health and dental charges."
16. JURY SYSTEM:
"Thai this Conference believes the interests of justice in Northern Ireland would be better served by the introduction of a majority-verdict system for juries, as in England and Wales, in place of the present unanimous-verdict system."
17. NURSERY SCHOOLS:
"That since Nursery Schools not only provide the best possible start to a child’s development, but are also the only form of education, other than the university, through which our two communities are being integrated at the present time, this Conference would urge the Alliance Party to make the provision of Nursery Schools a top priority."
18. THE SENATE:
"That this Conference believes the Alliance Party must seek to reform the Senate with a view to representing non-political organisations."
(New University of UIster)
19. THE ALLIANCE PARTY
"That this conference resolves that the Alliance Party will not fail the people of Northern Ireland in providing the opportunity for all its citizens to take part in the building of a new society devoid of the hatred and bitterness of the past. and in giving equal opportunity and rights to each citizen to participate in the government of the Province, and challenges all those who care for our future and that of our children to join with us in the creation of that society.
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