Committee

Part of Northern Ireland Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass Lord Maginnis of Drumglass Crossbench 4:45 pm, 11th March 2009

The noble Lord made a convincing argument, but there is an exception and it was enshrined in the way that he presented his case. There is a party called the SDLP. There is a party called the Ulster Unionist Party. Neither is sectarian. Neither wants to be associated, by the noble Lord or by anyone else, in sectarian terms. If he decides that he can pick out the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland as the one non-sectarian party, he errs.

I cannot sit in your Lordships' House and allow that misunderstanding to be stated again and again—to be underlined—because it is not true. Many in Northern Ireland have a huge desire—not least those of us who negotiated at the coalface of the Belfast agreement—for a non-sectarian, pluralist society within Northern Ireland. Hence to suggest that provision is made within this Bill to facilitate one small party that will simply be the buffer between Sinn Fein and the DUP, appears to be an act of folly.