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Ulster Unionist Party (1972) 'Towards the Future: A Unionist Blueprint', [Summary Leaflet]

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Text: Ulster Unionist Party ... Page Compiled: Brendan Lynn




Published by
The Ulster Unionist Party (1972?)

THE UNIONIST Proposals for the Future of N. Ireland




The Policy Document attempted to secure the maximum participation by minority parties that would be compatible with majority party Government - of whatever kind. These features were designed with this object in mind - a small executive, a Parliament doubled in size and a powerful committee system.

The Unicameral Chamber

One hundred members would allow greater backbench influence over a small executive. It also would permit a wider choice for ministerial and committee posts. The resulting smaller constituency would ensure greater accuracy in representation on with less wasted votes.

A Committee System

A Committee System was a central part of "Towards the Future." It was designed to draw into participation those elements who had not felt able to play their full part in public life.

There would be six committees shadowing all major departments: three would be chaired by the opposition parties. Their powers would include early participation in policy formation, the provision of the committee stage of Government sponsored Bills, the sponsorship of legislation and the promotion of their own policy ideas.

The Chairman

The Committee Chairman would be salaried, a member of the Privy Council and have immediate access to the Executive. His Committee would have the task of scrutinising executive policy and administrative action. He would have the right to invite Ministers and civil servants to appear, while his committee would employ its own independent specialists and assessors.

Benefits of the System

The Committees should develop their own esprit de corps and sense of independence. In the smaller, more intimate conditions provided, a committee as opposed to a party approach to issues would inevitably develop.

New techniques of co-operation and new patterns of governmental practice would have to evolve. The Policy Document says "The committees occasionally would clash with the Executive on such matters but we strongly feel that the very process of working out solutions to these problems would be part of the new techniques in Government that would have to be learnt .... (The Committees) would greatly broaden political participation while blunting political controversy in policy making."



Special Courts

These would replace the power of internment contained in the Special Powers Act. They would be designed

  • to protect witnesses and those who give information to the authorities
  • to prevent intimidation of juries
  • to ensure speedy trials
  • to modify the present exacting Common Law Standards of evidence and proof.
The National Responsibility

  • the Army, the UDR and the Territorials.
These would look after the defence of the Province externally, the protection of installations and the defence of the Border.

The Regional Responsibility

  • the Police and the Police Reserve.
These would be responsible for normal civilian policing, the detection of crime, the control of subversive activities and the gathering of intelligence.



The Unionist Party was first among the political parties to publish its proposals for the future Government of the Province. The result of three months’ work by a Party Policy Committee, they were adopted by the Shadow Cabinet, the Parliamentary Party and the Party’s Standing Committee.

The major recommendations of "Towards the Future" were -

  • a Unicameral or One Chamber Parliament
  • One Hundred Members of Parliament
  • a Small Executive consisting of five Departments
  • a Committee System of Government built into the legislative and policy making process.
  • a relook at the powers of the Regional Parliament, particularly in the Financial Field.
  • a Precise definition of security responsibilities
  • the Repeal of the Special Powers Act
  • a system of Special Courts to meet emergency conditions
  • a comprehensive Bill of Rights
  • a General Review of Public Appointments by the Community Relations Commission
  • Recognition of Northern- Ireland’s right to self determination by Southern Ireland.
  • a Common Law Enforcement area for the return of offenders in Ireland.
  • An inter-Governmental Council of Ireland.



Relations with Southern Ireland

The blueprint recognised the important role Southern Ireland had in bringing peace to the whole of Ireland.

"To give any system that may prove acceptable to the majority of Unionists and Nationalist minded people in Northern Ireland a good chance of success wilt require several major contributions from the South."

"A Solemn and Binding Agreement"

The three Governments - of the United Kingdom, Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland - would recognise the right of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland to decide on their future. It was recognised that this would require considerable courage by the Southern Government yet it was in essence only asking that Government to put into constitutional form a policy they are verbally committed to.

A Common Law Enforcement Area

"Towards the Future" recommended the establishment of a Common Law Enforcement area in Ireland. This would in effect mean that warrants could be executed in any part of Ireland. It would remove illogical and tedious attempts made by courts to distinguish between a common law murder and a political offence.

Inter-Governmental Council of Ireland

The two-steps above together with stringent measures against terrorists would, the Policy Committee felt, be as much in the best interests of the South as they would of the North. Without such a commitment peace in Ireland would be impossible to achieve.


See also:
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1972) 'Towards the Future: A Unionist Blueprint', [Full Text]. Belfast: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).


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