Alan Chambers: Alliance were just as in the dark as everyone else on SF’s Irish plan

Paula Bradshaw, pictured last August alongside Gerry Adams and others demanding a standalone act
Paula Bradshaw, pictured last August alongside Gerry Adams and others demanding a standalone act

It was quite revealing once again to read the rather sanctimonious words of an Alliance Party representative Paula Bradshaw in your letters page on Wednesday (‘Putting parties before country,’ January 24).

She seemed overly obsessed with what my party the UUP says and does.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

She wrote that it is ‘ludicrous for the UUP to continue to oppose Irish language legislation while at the same time saying they have no idea what would be in such legislation.’

Is this the same Ms Bradshaw who was happy to be photographed late last year, with a beaming smile on her face, standing shoulder to shoulder with Gerry Adams and holding their posters in support of an Irish Language Act?

Ms Bradshaw would have been as equally in the dark as everyone was regarding the contents of the Sinn Fein proposal, but that didn’t stop her posing for a photograph that demonstrated full support.

Paula Bradshaw and the Alliance Party may be content to hand Sinn Fein a blank cheque for whatever their Irish Language Act vision is, but the UUP is not.

We are opposed to an Irish Language Act because we don’t think such an Act is needed. We have consistently supported the provision of resources for the promotion of the Irish language and will continue to do so – in the language of the Belfast Agreement – “where there is appropriate demand”.

Quite simply the proposals we’ve seen from Sinn Fein in February 2015 and Conradh na Gaeilge in March 2017 are not acceptable.

Ms Bradshaw went on to say the UUP was putting party before country – an attempt at populism by appealing to some people’s instincts for the sake of party gain.

Anyone who looks back at the history of the last 20 years will see that this is utter nonsense. It was the UUP which stretched itself almost to breaking point to establish the political institutions we all so desperately want to see re-established.

Ms Bradshaw’s idea of compromise might be to give Sinn Fein everything they ask for – that certainly is part of the Alliance playbook – but it is not mine, or the UUP’s.

It is telling that in her letter she never once referred to any other party other that the UUP. Not one word of criticism or rebuke for the DUP or Sinn Fein.

A cynic might put this down to a desire in the Alliance Party not to criticise the DUP and Sinn Fein so as not to jeopardise the chances of Alliance being offered the justice ministry in any future Executive.

But then of course that would be angling purely for party gain, would it not? And of course, Alliance would never do that and Ms Bradshaw could not condone it.

Alan Chambers, UUP MLA, North Down