The Union should be welcoming to all, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, Danny Kinahan said yesterday.
Setting out an expansive vision of what unionism entails, Mr Kinahan – who is hoping to defend his South Antrim seat against a strong challenge from the DUP’s Paul Girvan – said that unionism should be outward-looking.
Speaking in the Templeton Hotel in Templepatrick, just across the road from his home in the village, the former Army officer said that the Union should be open to all – “Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew”.
UUP leader Robin Swann said that “no-one has anything to fear from the being part of the United Kingdom but we all have a lot to lose from leaving it and I believe that is what we are presenting in our manifesto”.
The manifesto is the shortest of any of the local parties.
In all, there are just seven pages of text, one of which is a recap on what the party has done at Westminster over the last two years and two pages of which are a foreword from the leader.
The manifesto calls for unionism in the 21st century to be “more confident and embracing”, with a Northern Ireland where “differing viewpoints are welcomed and accommodated”.
The manifesto says that the UUP’s top Brexit priority is to ensure “no hard border, or internal borders within the United Kingdom”.
In a section on ‘fixing Stormont’, the party proposes reform of the budgetary process to improve transparency, making ministers more accountable by making them subject to sanction if found to be in breach of the Ministerial Code and a demand that “the free-reign of special advisers must also be brought to an end”.
The party also calls for a strengthening of the role of the Assembly’s statutory committees, which currently are by legislation asked to ‘advise and assist’ departments.
The UUP proposes that they should be given a statutory responsibility to “scrutinise” departments.
The manifesto also calls for reform of the petition of concern veto procedure to limit abuse of the mechanism.