Politics Made Simple Part 6 (The Northern Ireland Assembly Election): Who Are The Other Political Parties?

Welcome back to Part 6 of my Politics Made Simple series, where I’m covering everything you need to know about the Northern Ireland Political Parties in a way that is simple to understand.

In today’s blog, I’m going to go through all the other political parties standing in this year’s election (these are the parties who don’t normally get a lot of the vote, but may or may not achieve more in this election, so they can be seen as being jealous of their big brothers’ — DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP’s success, and really want the spotlight to be given to them).

Traditional Unionist Voice (The TUV)

The TUV was formed in December 2007, and are a Loyalist Party, which was founded by their current leader, Jim Allister.

They are opposed to the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement — which they view as a betrayal by the British government of the Unionist cause, in regards that it lets those who it calls “unrepentant terrorists at the heart of government”.

Through this, they have until recently been opposed to the DUP — who they hold accountable for “sacrificing their principles” and agreeing to go into power sharing with Sinn Féin — and also oppose the UUP — who they basically view as being to blame for all the rubbish we’ve had since 1998.

Turning to their opinions on other issues (which have been largely seen through controversy), they are opposed to the Irish Language Act, which they described in 2009 on their website as “Leprechaun Language”, but they did later remove it.

They fundamentally placed themselves in opposition to the Gay Marriage / Abortion Reform, and called for the DUP to force the government to back down on gay marriage and abortion reforms in July 2019.

Lastly, in August 2016 Referendum, Jim Allister counted Brexit as the best case scenario for Northern Ireland.

As of April 2022, the TUV now counts the Brexit Deal that was signed as a betrayal of the Act of Union, and their main political view — if their manifesto is anything to go by — is scrapping the Northern Ireland Protocol. (They wouldn’t go into the Assembly if this one issue wasn’t scrapped).

So to summarise what the TUV is:

  • They are one of the newest Unionist Parties which was founded in 2007, by a group of former DUP members, who rejected the DUP going into government with Sinn Féin.
  • They are opposed to the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement, based on some of the points it currently stands for.
  • They are against the Irish Language Act.
  • They were against Gay Marriage and Abortion Reform in Northern Ireland before the British government passed both issues.
  • They supported Brexit — which they counted as the best case scenario for Northern Ireland — but wanted a different deal than what has been delivered.
  • They are fundamentally opposed to the Northern Ireland Protocol, and support not returning to the Executive until the issue is scrapped.

What is the PUP?

The Progressive Unionist Party — or as they are known, ‘the PUP’ — are a political party that was founded in 1979 to represent working class loyalists, and who’s sole commitment is strengthening Northern Ireland’s political marriage with Great Britain in the UK. Their original founding leader was the late David Ervine, who demanded a place at the negotiating table during the Peace Process. To many people’s surprise he was a great politician who won respect across the political divide. His untimely death left everyone stunned, although his sister-in-law, Linda has come to prominence recently as an advocate for Irish Language schools in the heart of Loyalism. Under Ervine the PUP were a real threat to the DUP in the Loyalist heartlands and were taking votes from them.

Billy Hutchinson is the current leader of the PUPs.

They believe in doing this through a cordial Union made up of diverse people from multiple cultures and faiths, as a way of achieving social and political harmony.

Other issues the PUP cares about are on promoting citizenship as part of the United Kingdom, which they believe should draw from a range of cultures and traditions.

They support helping Working Class families — which in fairness to them, other Parties support as well — but are subscribed to the political ideology laid out by them Ulster Covenant in 1912.

As well as this, they also support implementing progressive policies and initiatives that promote supporting full and equal citizenship, entitlements and responsibilities, that will develop the social and economic well being of citizens and religious / political freedoms.

But what positions has the party recently taken regarding political issues?

In recent months between late 2021 – early 2022, the PUP has faced many of the same problems as other Unionist Parties have faced.

In November 2021, the former PUP councillor, John Kyle — who has since jumped over to the UUP — said that there could be advantages to the NI Protocol (a few days after his party had previously said there was no bases for Unionists continuing to back the Good Friday Agreement).

As of April 2022, they have been among four political parties attending rallies to collapse the Northern Ireland Protocol, and have been critical of Doug Beattie — the UUP’s leader — for not attending.

It can therefore be believed that they are in support of keeping the Executive down until the Protocol is abandoned.

Their opinions on the other political issues mentioned in this blog have historically differed as well.

So to Summarise what the PUP is:

  • They are a Unionist Party who were founded in 1979, and who describe themselves as Working Class.
  • They are committed fundamentally to Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK, and believe the Union should be made up of a mix of people from different cultures and faiths.
  • They support progressive politics, and subscribe to the 1912 Ulster Convent.
  • They caused controversy recently when one of their councillors, John Kyle, left to join the UUP, after making claims that there are advantages to the NI Protocol, a couple of days after they said there was no more need for Unionists to back the Good Friday Agreement.
  • They are happy for Unionists to walk away from the Good Friday Agreement, if it means that the NI Protocol will no longer exist.

What is the Green Party of Northern Ireland?

The Green Party of Northern Ireland was founded in the 1980s, and is currently led by Clare Bailey.

Like many Green Parties around the world, the Green Party of NI wants to see movement on Climate Change legislation.

They support LGBT+, are pro Abortion in certain circumstances, and also support an Irish Language Act.

While some of their members have sympathised with the idea of a United Ireland in the past, they don’t believe it is the right time to consider a Border Poll.

But they are in support of creating fair employment, a fair education system and a fair health system.

What is People Before Profit?

People Before Profit is a socialist party founded in October 2005, and which has started building momentum in Northern Ireland throughout the last couple of years. And while they would generally like to see all of Ireland under one political system, they would like it to come about in a way that generally works for everyone.

Until recently the best known member of the PBP was Eamonn McCann, a well known Marxist. Although he his not standing for election in May.

But turning towards some of their other policies, they would like to see an agriculture policy that promotes the establishment of small local processors, and of cooperative farm ownership, among others.

When it comes to Brexit and the current circumstances that surrounds it, People Before Profit has always rejected what it sees as the DUP’s attempt to use the Protocol for sectarian electioneering, and are against any attempts to recreate a hard border on the island of Ireland. They’re against any moves to weaken economic links between Northern and Southern Ireland, and also oppose the neoliberalism and imperialism that they see coming from London and Brussels.

So to summarise what People Before Profit is:

  • They are a socialist party founded in 2005, and which exists in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • While they generally support the idea of the entirety of Ireland being under one political system, they want it to come about in a way that works for everyone.
  • They support agriculture policies that promote the establishment of small local processors, of cooperative farm ownership, and are willing to help farmers who are struggling in the aftermath of Brexit.
  • They reject the DUP’s attempts to use the Protocol for sectarian electioneering purposes, and are also against any hard border returning to the island of Ireland, and any attempts to weaken the economic links before North and South.
  • They also oppose the neoliberalism and imperialism they see coming from London and Brussels, as well as the creation of a European Army.

What are the Northern Ireland Independents?

But even with the number of parties we do have a choice over, some people choose not to identify with any of them.

And that’s when the Northern Ireland Independents come in.

An Independent can have any belief set they want, but what they all have in common is that they don’t belong to any of the parties.

But unlike other Independent candidates from other countries around the world, we have had quite a number of Independent candidates who have been very successful and taken on impressive roles within the government, so they can still be influential. With our system of Proportional Representation, a popular local candidate stands a good chance of election. Unlike the first past the post system for the Westminster elections.

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