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1975 Constitutional Convention Election (NI) - Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI) Manifesto



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Text: Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI) ... Page Compiled: Brendan Lynn

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 73, 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 FutureA 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.

 


 

The above manifesto was written for the:
Constitutional Convention Election (NI) on Thursday 1 May 1975.
This version of the manifesto appeared in Appendix 1 of:
Great Britain. Northern Ireland Office (NIO). (1975) Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention Report, (20 November 1975). London: HMSO.

 


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