I recently read with increasing bemusement the latest unprovoked attack on Alliance by Owen Polley (‘Alliance’s new identity politics fuels division, not integration,’ August 31).
Wading through his predictable attacks on young female party members, the main thrust of his argument (such as it was) is he believes Alliance is divisive due to advocating for liberal values, even going as far as to brand it as having ‘poisoned political debate across the western world’.
It’s truly difficult to know where to start.
Alliance is a liberal party, we stand guilty as charged.
However, Mr Polley is the latest in a long line of ultra-conservatives attempting to brand ‘liberal’ as a dirty word.
Alliance has always been a pro-human rights party, so backing the likes of equal marriage and language rights is not a surprise for those who have been paying attention.
Indeed, the gaining of such rights is fundamental to the reconciliation of our wider society.
You cannot expect reconciliation while telling people to remain silent on the rights granted to others in similar positions across the UK.
Mr Polley labours under the illusion arguing for human rights is “repugnant to unionists”.
He couldn’t be more wrong — the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, including many unionists, support such rights, while unionists in the rest of the UK (including Mr Polley’s own Conservative Party) also embrace those very rights.
Of course, scratch the surface and Mr Polley’s attack showed its true intent — a personal broadside against Naomi Long and others.
He would be better laying off such diatribes and moving beyond the increasingly narrow kind of politics he and a small minority of others advocate, which is actually out of step with the rest of the union, to actually taking part in sensible political debate on the giving of the rights others in the rest of the UK already take for granted.
Paula Bradshaw, MLA, South Belfast