“I have a message for Sinn Fein. Call off your cultural war.”
That was the demand from Ulster Unionist Party Mike Nesbitt MLA as he addressed local members in East Antrim.
Speaking in Carrickfergus at the annual general meeting of the East Antrim Ulster Unionist Association, Mr Nesbitt also challenged Sinn Fein to accept the constitutional position of Northern Ireland as enshrined in the Belfast Agreement.
In a wide ranging speech, Mr Nesbitt added: “The Belfast Agreement gave republicans a fair settlement. It enshrined mutual respect, an inclusive way forward for everyone, with everyone committing to an exclusively peaceful and democratic way forward.
“Politically, majority rule gave way to consensus as the agreed way to make decisions. Yet, as soon as republicans sensed they could command a majority vote at Belfast City Council, what did they do? They brought forward a divisive motion on the Union flag, and pushed it through, wilfully ignoring the fact that not one unionist supported their motion. That is not in the spirit of the Belfast Agreement.
Nor is what happened next, as republicans described the vote on the 3rd of December as a good night’s work .... or the republican who talks of the fact that the Irish tricolour is not flying from Belfast City Hall ‘yet’ .... or the republican who immediately put a focus on the Royal in the name of the Royal Victoria Hospital.
“The vote on the 3rd of December was not just an event, it is part of a process – a cultural war. I repeat my call to republicans: call off your cultural war.”
Main office bearers elected at the AGM were:
Chairman: Roy McCune
Vice-chairman: Andy Wilson
Hon secretary: Cllr John Stewart
Asst secretary: Lindsay Millar
Hon treasurer: May Steele MBE.