Graham Craig is from Co. Tyrone but now lives in Belfast and is the Ulster Unionist candidate in Botanic DEA (Belfast City Council) in the forthcoming local Government election in May. He is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast and works as an Economist in the public sector. He was also a Special Adviser to the former Minister for Finance in the last Assembly (2007-2011). You can visit his campaign page here.
To brand Northern Ireland and its border with the Irish Republic as “artificial” and to describe this part of the United Kingdom as a “colony” is deeply insulting, untrue and misguided. Such comments are especially shocking from a political party that has for so long ‘lectured’ others on the need for consensus politics. I was not surprised to hear Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey welcome these remarks as one could have easily mistaken Anna Lo for a member of Sinn Fein.
Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic of Ireland exist by consent. Consent was secured at its inception in 1921 and reaffirmed in 1998 – in both jurisdictions – by the Belfast Agreement. In 1998 the Republic dropped its territorial claim to our Province by an over whelming majority in a constitutional referendum.
I believe that the question of the Union is settled and our constitutional position within the United Kingdom is secure. For Alliance to raise this question is therefore somewhat shocking.
Of particular concern were Ms Lo’s comments on imperialism and likening Northern Ireland to a colony. Not only are such comments entirely without foundation they are deeply offensive to those who regard themselves as unionists. And have in the past been used as a justification for ‘armed struggle’. Does Ms Lo regard unionists as colonists, as planters, as people who ultimately should not be in Ireland?
Duncan Morrow, Alliance’s candidate in Botanic, was wheeled out to defend Anna’s position. As a former Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council I would have hoped that Mr Morrow would have had a deeper appreciation of how dangerous the use of such language in Northern Ireland can be.
While Alliance may be seeking to muddy the waters, what is needed is a clear and unambiguous statement from David Ford publically repudiating these comments which in other circumstances could be regarded as a form of racism. He might also wish to consider whether he has enough confidence in her, as the European candidate, to stand before the electorate on a non-partisan and non-sectarian ticket? These are, we’re told, the credentials of Alliance; it remains to be seen whether they truly are.
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