- 23 May 19
The Alliance Party is a welcome breath of non-sectarian air among Northern Ireland's all too familiar tribal bickering
Amidst all the sectarian point scoring which continues to dominate Northern Irish public life, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long stands out as one of the few politicians who has zero interest in tribalism and just, shock, wants to do the right thing, horror, for all her constituents regardless of which foot they kick with.
Not afraid to take her critics on either in person or on Twitter, Long has tended to align herself in the past with Sinn Féin and the Greens, but rejects out of hand claims that she’s a closet Nationalist.
Her being pro-gay marriage and in favour of women having “access to free, safe, legal termination within strict gestational limits” explains why she’s become something of a DUP hate figure.
With the Alliance Party upping their number of seats by 65% in the recent local council elections, and their leader’s no nonsense “I want a second referendum” Brexit stance appealing to many a floating voter who fears for the future of the Good Friday Agreement, Long stands a very chance of joining Sinn Féin and DUP shoo-ins Martina Anderson and Dianne Dodds in Brussels. That alone would make it worth giving her your No.1.
If she does, this latest Alliance Party dawn may not prove to be as false as previous ones.
THREE FOR YOUR PREFERENCES
Clare Bailey: Following their own local council election surge, the Greens are hoping that their party leader will be able to significantly boost their Euro vote. An accomplished media performer who wants Westminster to unilaterally decriminalise abortion, she's polling well among female voters.
Colum Eastwood: While we're not sure about their playing footsie with Fianna Fail, the SDLP's 36-year-old leader has been excellent in his standing up to the DUP and the Brexit bully boys/girls.
Martina Anderson: Having been imprisoned for 13 years for IRA offences, she ain't going to reach across the sectarian divide, but the sitting Sinn Féin MEP has been an articulate voice for Northern Ireland in Brussels.
Avoid like the plague: Jim Allister