THE Ulster Unionist Party has always had the character of a coalition. Originally founded to include all interests seeking to maintain the union with Britain, it contains many who differed on other issues.
When it formed the government of Northern Ireland, it also frequently provided its own most vigorous opposition. It still seeks to express the broad and inclusive centre of Ulster political life.
Ulster has a long tradition of radical democracy, and there is hitter dieontent with the present direct rule regime, under which decisions fundamentally affecting people's lives are taken by those who are not effectively answerable to the public in any way. The early restoration of an Ulster parliament and government directly answerable io the public, is, in our view a neccessity.
Inseparable from restoration of democratic government is restoration of peace and security.
The initial and sustaining cause of violence has been the effort of the leadership of a tiny group of persons, based in the Irish Republic and often acting from its territory, to deny by force the choice of our people to remain British. Light dragging years or I his warfare has done great material and social damage.
There is much need for reconstruction and reconciliation. But peace depends On decisive military victory over those 41 ho set out 10 destroy the democratic way of life by violence and cruelty and who were feebly per
mined to enjoy substantial
As things now are in Ulster, where no party has an overall majority. it is obvious that any government would have to he a coalition. The Ulster Unionist Party takes an open attitude towards the possibility of partnership in government with others.
One apostasy, however, is impossible for us. We could not share in government with those who actually seek to destroy our Ulster identity by breaking the union and merging us in an Irish Republic. Repeated allegations that we would not share power with Catholics are totally untrue.
In the constitutional Convention of 1975, we gained widespread acceptance for a community government plan for involving the elected representative of every party in decision making t hrough t he devolution of much former cabinet power to parliamentary committees, on which government and opposition
would be equally represented. This is a proposal still wide open for discussion, negotiations and adjustments.
We do not accept the recently canvassed doctrine that there arc in Northern Ireland "two communities". Political and religious affiliations have by no means coincided. In a government "blue book" of 1975 (Cmd. 5851) it was shown that in all Northern Ireland general elections from 1929 to 1969 inclusive, the nationalist and Republican candidates averaged only 14.6",/, of the total vote. Those candidates arc also shown to have averaged inure parliamentary seats in proportion to 'their share of the votes than
Unionists did in proportion to theirs. That minority group always attributed their small numbers to "gerrymandering". In reality if was owing to the tact that a large majority of' Catholics, was well as of Protestants, just did not vote for them.
What we want to see in Ulster is one united peaceful and prospering community. We believe that decisions of all kinds have to be healed so far as possible by patient development as in a growing organism, not by forced mechanical contrivance. Thus, while in office, and in response to Catholic demand, we provided for a separate Catholic education system, parallel to the nonsectarian system used by others, meeting 95% of its cost from public funds.
There is now an increasing trend for Catholic children to go to nonsectarian schools and, in some quarters, a demand for mixed schooling. We believe that such trends must be allowed to develop at there own pace and no general transformation to integrated schooling made unless the great majority of Catholics demanded.
After the strong adverse public reaction against "power sharing" with Republican sympathisers in 1973 to 1974, our share of the vote fell, in the 1975 Convention general election, to a quarter of the total. This year, however, we secured 34f of the seats in the local council elections, and we find growing public support for the moderate policies for which we stand. We cannot, however, ignore the fact that continued frustration of the democratic wishes of the majority of the electorate may well swing Ulster public opinion before long, to a more extreme view,