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Elections: Unionist Party Assembly Manifesto 1973

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Text: Unionist Party ... Page Compiled: Brendan Lynn


Peace, Order and Good Government
Unionist Assembly Manifesto 1973

Unionist Party Publication,
Unionist Publicity and Research Department,
Belfast 1973



A Worthwhile Legislature and Government
Executive Government
Powers (a) Security
        (b) Criminal Law
        (c) Finance
Committees and the Executive
The Governor
The Secretary of State
Representation at Westminster
Relations with Southern Ireland
Industrial Development
Community Relations
Social ServIces
Environmental Services
Culture and Entertainment.
Ulster in Europe


The Union

The maintenance of the Union is regarded by the Unionist Party as fundamental to the preservation of civil and religious liberty and to the future prosperity of Ulster.

We pledge ourselves to take whatever steps are necessary to defend this position. British citizenship and British citizenship alone can bring to Ulster the benefits the Unionist Party seeks and the community deserves.

The Border Poll on March 8th, 1973, made clear to the world the wish of the Ulster electorate to maintain its British citizenship. Secure in this knowledge the Unionist Party presents these policies which are designed to provide a safe and peaceful future for all the people of Ulster, to create structures of government which can attract their support and respect, and to accelerate the growth of our prosperity.

  • We differ from other parties in that we actively support the Union. We do not merely accept it in a tepid and equivocal manner.
  • We are not interested in discussing conditions for our continued support of the Union. We assert our British citizenship as our birthright.
  • The people of Northern Ireland appreciate a common and true bond of identity and friendship, with the rest of the United Kingdom.
  • The relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom involves rights and obligations on both sides. Ulstermen have the same right to pressurise and persuade as Scotsmen. Welshmen and Englishmen.
  • We are a non-sectarian Party seeking the support of all those who value and uphold the Union.


The Constitution

"We are convinced that, whatever else may be left open for discussion, there must be a strong regional Parliament and Government in Northern Ireland. We are not so concerned about the structure of this Parliament as about its role in the community and its powers." (Towards the Future - a Unionist Blueprint).

The establishment of a devolved legislature and the existence of a Regional Government in Ulster are central to Unionist Policy.
Northern Ireland needs this legislature for the following reasons, now generally accepted -
  • Geographical isolation requires in Ulster a more personal form of Government than that which can be provided from London.
  • The political problems of our community cannot, at Westminster, have the full attention or understanding that they merit.
  • Northern Ireland has many unique problems and needs the security in employment and other fields that a devolved government is best equipped to provide.
  • All sections of the Ulster community have a strong sense of identity. They can best solve their problems by meeting, talking, debating in their own institutions.
  • Local Government Services like Education, Housing, and Health have been centralized. They need to be democratically controlled.
Unionist Policy
It is usual for the Party with a majority of seats in a Parliament or Legislature to form the Government or Executive. It has not, however, been Unionist policy to insist on a one-Party Government.
Our Policy was summed up in "Towards the Future".
"Our object is to provide institutions that will attract, or failing that, persuade, all reasonable sections of the community, apart from the irredeemable hard core, towards an acceptance of and a participation in the public life of Northern Ireland."

As a Party Unionists will seek
1. to obtain a majority of seats in the new Assembly:
2. to play the largest part in creating the form of Government:
3. to play the predominant role in the new Government.

This Manifesto describes what we want to see emerging from the new Assembly - the prerequisites which we regard as desirable to its working in a satisfactory manner, and those we regard as essential if that Assembly is to provide the best possible Government for Northern Ireland.

Unionists will work to ensure that the new Stormont Assembly provides the legislature and the Executive Government of Northern Ireland.

If this is to be workable and to function in the best interests of Northern Ireland, Unionists believe there are several essentials:
  • The new Stormont Government must be such as to inspire trust and confidence amongst all but an irredeemable hard core of militants:
  • It must be a willing partnership of those who agree sufficiently to provide cohesive direction for policy:
  • There must be a sense of collective responsibility amongst members of the Government.
  • Unionists are not prepared to participate in government with those whose primary objective is to break the Union with Great Britain.
  • There can be no built-in sectarian representation. This would be unworkable and undemocratic.
  • The new Government should only hold office for as long as it holds the confidence of a majority in the Assembly.
Unionists as a Party believe in and are committed to the concept of Regional Government in Northern Ireland. In this Assemblywe will work for the widest possible devolution of power to the new Ulster Legislature and Executive. If the concept of devolution is to be meaningful, we believe that the powers devolved must be sufficient to allow the public representatives of Northern Ireland to gain the trust and keep the respect of their electorate.

Public representatives will not be able to gain this trust unless certain essential powers are devolved to the Regional Government.
These are -
(a) Security:
The people of Northern Ireland want peace and the defeat of the I.R.A. above all else. All of our proposals concerning security are designed to provide the best possible means of achieving that end. We are not concerned with Party influence on security decisions, but rather with effective measures to make Northern Ireland a safe and peaceful place to live.
In the Unionist Blueprint ‘Towards the Future’ we said:
"There is a cult of violence in the community which leads to periodic outbreaks of violent political activity. No administration, whether Westminster based, Belfast based, or Dublin based, would be safe without adequate means to control these outbreaks".
Unionists, therefore, argue strongly for the devolution of Police control to the Northern Ireland government.
(a) Remote control of the Police from Westminster we believe, is bad administration; local control is good administration.
We can not afford bad administration when human lives are at stake.
(b) If a government of Northern Ireland is to maintain the respect of its citizens, it must have responsibility for peace and order.
(c) If the Police themselves are to command the respect of the citizens of Northern Ireland they must not be inhibited by remoteness in administration.
(d) Police control should be in the hands of those whom the people of Ulster believe have the will to smash crime. The Bow Group pamphlet challenging the British Government with the question, ‘Do you sincerely want to win?’ echoed the doubts of many in Ulster.
Unionists, therefore, demand the early devolution of Police control to the new Northern Ireland Assembly.

Objectives of Local Control:
(i) To secure widespread respect for the Police from all law-abiding citizens by fair administration of the law:
(ii) to boost the morale of the Police by securing for them an important role in the maintenance of peace and order:
(iii) to build up the strength of the R.U.C. and its reserves to ease the workload of Policemen:
(iv) to continue to update and improve the equipment and conditions of the Police.

(b) The Criminal Law:
The Police are the servants of the legal system and apply the Criminal Law. Since Unionists believe that the Police must be the responsibility of the Regional Government, that Regional Government must also have power to legislate on all normal criminal law matters. This includes ordinary criminal offences and those offences established in connection with the maintenance of public order, insofar as these do not conflict with the International requirements which are the responsibility of the United Kingdom Parliament.

(c) Finance:
  • Sufficient freedom to decide priorities of expenditure. This is necessary if a Regional Government is to innovate and to differ from National Government. Without this power a great virtue in devolution would be lost.
  • Adequate Financial Discretion to further Regional policy and to develop the Northern Ireland economy.
Unionists believe two principles should govern the administration of the Purse Strings in Northern Ireland.
- the mutual acceptance of responsibilities and benefits of common citizenship of the United Kingdom.
- a belief in the value of Regional Government within the United Kingdom context.

For the same reasons we, as a Party, feel that certain powers are important to the credibility of Government and would, in the long term, be best handled locally. Such powers include those over public prosecutions and the Franchise.

When we proposed a Committee system in "Towards the Future" we intended it to provide an independent means of control on Government- a role in which all, including those who cannot, or would not join in actual government, could find a meaningful participation.
We are, therefore, convinced that
- committee Chairmen should be separate from Heads of Departments and independent of the Executive;
- chairmanships should be widely spread amongst the political parties;
- these committees should be small and specialist.
Only in this way can the widest co-operation in Government and the fullest participation in public life be achieved - advantages which would be lost if the Executive itself were to provide the chairmen of committees from within its ranks.

Unionists believe an independent non-political representative of the Crown in Northern Ireland to be essential for the following reasons:-
  • to provide a direct link with the Crown for the people of Northern Ireland;
  • to allow a respected figure, not directly associated with local or national politics, to become the focus of public esteem and respect.

Unionist will work for the restoration of the Office of Governor.

Unionists believe that the Secretary of State, from whatever party he may come, must retain a position commensurate with his functions in and responsibilities to Northern Ireland. He should be a senior Government Minister and, both in the short and the long term, be a prominent member of the United Kingdom Cabinet. Only by having a Minister so placed can Northern Ireland’s interests be properly represented at the highest level.
Unionists will maintain a close working relationship with the Secretary of State. In all circumstance N.I. interests must be the responsibility of a senior member of the Westminster Cabinet.

The entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community necessitates adequate representation of Ulster’s requirements in the councils of Europe. The new Stormont Legislature must speak for its citizens on a level which will command respect and attention in the E.E.C. OR representation of Northern Ireland in the Westminster Parliament must be substantially increased. WE favour the former. But Westminster politicians can not have it both ways. There must be either a real devolution of power or increased representation at Westminster.

Unionist policy on North/South relations was firmly stated in the Unionist Blueprint. We have no reason to alter our approach.
To ensure the meaningful co-operation we hope for three conditions must be fulfilled-
(a) First there must be acceptance by the Republic of the right of the people of Northern Ireland to self-determination. This means asking the government and politicians of the Republic to translate their verbal commitment to the idea that force will not be allowed to bring about a United Ireland into political and constitutional action. We propose that this declaration be in the form of a solemn and binding agreement between the three governments concerned.
(b) The second stage must be a thoroughgoing review of extradition arrangements in Ireland and of the measures necessary to tackle terrorism in a realistic way throughout the whole of Ireland.
The Unionist Blueprint states our policy on this point:
"So long as extradition agreements exclude offences of a political character, this will be used to justify the non-return of many of those responsible for the murder of innocent civilians. Either the extradition treaty should be re-negotiated or the British Isles made a Common Law Enforcement Area. The latter would be preferable. A warrant issued in Belfast would be executed in Dublin in the same way as it would in Sheffield."
(c) the third stage would then be the establishment of an Inter-Governmental Council whose membership would be drawn equally from the Governments of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. This would discuss mutual co-operation in economic and social matters.
We have an important qualification concerning such an Inter-Governmental Council. We must insist on the fulfilment by the United Kingdom Government of the obligations undertaken in the second paragraph of the Downing Street Declaration of August, 1969, which affirmed "that responsibility for affairs in Northern Ireland is entirely a matter of domestic jurisdiction" and that the "United Kingdom Government will take full responsibility for asserting this principle in all international relationships."
We totally reject any attempts by the Dublin Government to interfere in the internal affairs of Northern Ireland, nor will we allow any Council of Ireland to become a stage on the road to Irish Unity.


Economic and Social Regeneration

Unionist Governments since the war share a fine record of progress in such fields as housing, training, industrial development and in education. Following four years of turmoil there will be an even greater need of skilful and vigorous policies in these and related fields. Unionists have a wealth of experience and achievement behind there and offer this expertise to the electorate at this election.
This manifesto gives Unionist policies on the following:

  • Housing
  • Agriculture
  • Industrial development
  • Education
  • Community Relations
  • Tourism
  • Social Services
  • Environmental Services
  • Culture and entertainment
  • Ulster in Europe
Our Record
The Housing record of Northern Ireland since the war has been a major example of the benefits of devolved government.
  • 40% (200,000 houses) of our housing has been built with Government assistance in the last 25 years.
  • In 1971, the Northern Ireland house building rate was 40% better than that in the United Kingdom as a whole. This record has been maintained on Unionist policies. The years 1963 - 1968 saw 33,933 Public Authority homes built in Northern Ireland, compared with 18,033 in the Republic.
  • In Londonderry 8,800 houses have been built as a result of Unionist housing plans since the war. This means 1 house for every 8 persons in that area.
  • On the 6th January, 1972, the Unionist Government announced plans to build 50,000 more Public Authority houses.
Our Policy
  • Unionists seek to house the people urgently and to end the problem of slum dwellings.
  • to review the policy of replacing old houses with high level or multi-storey flats.

  • to introduce an equitable and fair rent scheme for Housing Executive tenants.
  • to give Executive tenants the facilities to purchase their own homes and to encourage home ownership wherever possible.
  • to encourage the movement of people to areas of good housing and where jobs are available.


  • to improve areas of older housing where possible instead of insisting on replacing them, with careful study of each individual area concerned in redevelopment with a view to designating them "Improvement areas".


  • to allow people real participation in planning. Those who have to live in estates should both have an opportunity to contribute to their planning and to the way in which they are run. District Councillors must be regularly consulted by the Housing Executive.


  • to take urgent action to ensure that Housing estates are not used as pawns in a chess game of political warfare as has been the case with New Barnsley and Lenadoon.


to extend the basic amenities of civilised living - a piped water supply, a toilet, a bath - to all households in Northern Ireland. New Publicity drives will be undertaken to ensure that everyone is aware of the generous grants available for home improvements and modernisation.

Our Record:
  • In the past 42 years production in agriculture has increased by 250%. Output per man is now 6 1/2 times what it was in 1930.
  • Animal health in Northern Ireland is among the best in the world.Brucellosis and tuberculosis have been eradicated well in advance of the rest of the British Isles.
  • Northern Ireland achieved a net family income of £2,200 per 100 acres of crops and grass compared with £1,500 in the Republic.
  • Ulster is well ahead of the rest of the British Isles in mechanisation, scientific breeding, and disease and pest control.

Our Policy:
Recognising that agriculture provides 14% of the province’s employment and 20% of the province’s output Unionists will give special attention to maintaining a vigorous agricultural industry. Among the priorities in the Party’s policy will be:

  • The encouragement of store cattle production.
  • The further development of the fat beef and dead meat industry for the European market;
  • The promotion of grass drying to offset the high cost of imported feeding stuffs;
  • The replacement of the Remoteness Grazing by an equivalent aid to counteract the high cost of transport to markets;
  • The maintenance of a reasonable return for milk producers;
  • The protection of the pigmeat industry during entry of the EEC;
  • An examination of the effect of increased land prices on the industry in the longer term;
  • The extension of special assistance schemes for hill land to marginal land particularly that in the Western counties;
  • The continuation of production grants or their equivalent under EEC rules;
  • the protection of our record in plant and animal health in the EEC context;
  • The maintenance of well tried and successful marketing arrangements for agricultural produce;
  • A continuing programme of agricultural education
More industry - More jobs.
Our Record:
  • 250 new enterprises since the war, giving 80,000 new jobs
  • The best range of industrial incentives and the best job getting team in the United Kingdom.
  • Belfast Shipyards recently won a £150m. order for the largest tankers ever built in the United Kingdom. Assistance given by Unionist Governments in the 1960’s made the Yard the most modern in Europe, and helped to give it Europe’s largest dry dock.
  • 5000 new jobs in two new Unionist sponsored Government Schemes—the Urban and Rural Improvement Campaign and Enterprise Ulster.
  • The diversification of industry in the Fifties and Sixties has made Northern Ireland Europe’s largest centre for the production of man-made fibres and helped to prevent industrial disaster with the onset of civil disturbance.
  • In 1971, the expansion of existing industry alone produced 7,200 new jobs.
Our Policy:
- Unionist policy will be to ensure that these remain the most competitive in the United Kingdom. A careful study will be made to ensure that these provide adequate encouragement to both new enterprises and to the expansion of existing firms;
- Traditional employers will continue to be assisted and will be a major focus for Government investment.
- Unionist policy will attempt to make Ulster the most attractive base - by generous industrial incentives, comprehensive industrial training and good industrial relations - for new industry and investment in the EEC.

Unionist policy will be to expand and strengthen the role of Enterprise Ulster to provide more job opportunities and to improve the range of schemes undertaken. It will be used in particular to improve the environment and to add to local amenities in the towns and cities of Northern Ireland.

Our Record:
More than 12 million square feet of Government factory space has been provided since the war.
Our Policy:
Unionist policy will continue and accelerate this building programme.
Particular attention will be paid to the establishment of more industrial estates to which industries complementary to each other can be attracted.

The Unionist pioneered concept of LEDU - the aid small industry unit - will be expanded and adapted to provide employment opportunities in those areas to which it is difficult to attract larger industrial investment.
Already 25 pocket factories are planned. It will be Unionist policy to ensure that all parts of the Province share equally in the distribution of this new programme.

The full range of incentives and help will be continued - Rate Relief, subsidies towards security costs, clean up schemes and general compensation. Greater attention will be paid to streamlining the claims system for bomb damage and to providing better and swifter emergency help to shops and small firms. If necessary Rate Relief will be extended to other centres hit by terrorism.

Unionists believe jobs in Northern Ireland should, if possible, be filled by Northern Ireland people. We will work hard to see that the safeguarding of Employment Act is maintained within the EEC framework. While there exists a critical situation here we will resist any attempts in the European Commission to remove this legitimate protection of employment in Northern Ireland.

Our Record:
Between 1948 and 1970, 440 new primary schools were built and new places provided for 135,300 children. In the same period 190 new secondary schools of all types were built and places provided for 128,100.
Our Policy:
  • We shall maintain our policy of promoting an educational system in which there is a wide measure of parental choice and full opportunity for every child to fulfil his or her potential.
  • We shall pursue any policy which will develop contacts between children of different religion and educational background and we shall discourage the provision of new school facilities on a segregated basis.
  • We shall make a priority the provision of more nursery school places and further education opportunities.
    We shall seek means to achieve, by consent, the integration of teacher training colleges.
  • We shall ensure that adequate funds are made available for special education needs.
  • We shall encourage the development of curricula in secondary schools which give a wide understanding of the history and culture of the Province.
  • We shall encourage work experience projects for children in their final year at school.
  • We shall examine schemes which could help to keep talented young people in the Province.
Our Record:
Unionist Governments have always has as a major plank of their policy the maintaining of good relations between different sections of the community in Ulster. As a gesture of goodwill a Unionist Government set up the Ministry of Community Relations and the Community Relations Commission. A member of another party was appointed Minister of Community Relations in 1971.
In his report for 1972, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints stated that out of 431 complaints referred to him during the year only 16 alleged discrimination. He had found no evidence of discrimination in the eleven cases where investigations were completed.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in Northern Ireland concluded in his report in 1970:
"I think it fair to say that the quality of administrative performance in the Northern Ireland Ministries compares well with my experience of Government Departments in the United Kingdom." (H.C. 2076)
Our Policy
Unionists believe that a major contribution to community relations in Northern Ireland can be made by the ending of unsubstantiated and wild allegations of discrimination by certain politicians. But knowing that an impartial system for the examination of complaints can clarify the true facts we welcome and support any reasonable means whereby this can be done.

Unionists therefore support:

  • A Charter of Human Rights.
  • Proposals to deal with job discrimination provided no formal quota system is adopted.
  • An active and independent Community Relations Commission dealing with the problems of community development.
  • Projects to study thoroughly the Ulster situation and seek solutions to various problems.
  • An active and respected Ministry of Community Relations.
Unionists realize that rights are balanced by obligations. In particular, the right to equality of benefit and opportunity is incompatible with abstention, non-participation, or the withholding of rents and rates.


  • We will ensure that all forms of tourist development give priority to preserving the beauty of our countryside, which is our greatest tourist asset.
  • We will continue to encourage boating marinas on our lakes, properly landscaped caravan sites, and the development of our attractive forest parks.
  • We shall endeavour to assist projects which will operate outside the normal tourist season and in particular the development of a first-class conference centre.
While we shall continue to ensure that the Province receives the same level of benefit as other parts of the United Kingdom we shall be watchful for any abuse of the cash benefits or welfare services by those who are not in genuine need or who do not properly qualify for them.
  • We shall seek to concentrate capital expenditure in the Social services to the old, the mentally and physically handicapped, the sick and children requiring care.
  • It is our intention to draw up at an early stage a programme for the rehabilitation of the young who have been damaged by the disturbances of the past four years.
  • We shall seek to provide Government aid for voluntary bodies who provide pioneering and supplementary services either on a provisional or more local Scale.
Our Record
  • Northern Ireland has 1 mile of road for every 27 vehicles;
  • In Britain there is 1 mile for 55 vehicles;
  • £200m. has been invested in the roads of Northern Ireland to produce 60 miles of motorway and many miles of dual carriageway and extensive reconstruction and modernization of existing roads.
Our Policy
- The expansion of the Motorway system to the North and West of the Province by the 1980’s.
- the completion of the Belfast Urban Motorway by the 1980’s.
- the acceleration of the programme of road construction to allow by-passes of major congestion areas and the completion of a second river crossing in Londonderry.
- the opening of the Belfast Central Railway and a new central Belfast station and halt.
- the rationalisation of Government financed road transport and passenger services.


Our Record
Craigavon - 55 new factories, 11 under construction, 4 new schools, a new hospital, 3 neighbourhood centres, a major shopping centre has been commenced, 3,000 new houses built, and pedestrian precincts are planned.
Londonderry - 3 industrial estates, 2 training centres, a new hospital.
Antrim - Ballymena - 4 new industrial estates, new schools and a massive road development programme.

Our Policy
The three new towns - Craigavon, Antrim-Ballymena and Londonderry, are a new concept in Ulster life. Unionist policy will be to promote their future by encouraging industry, by providing Government investment, and by building major new facilities like schools and hospitals. The campaign by the development Advice Centre to encourage people to "move to a better future" will be supported and generous grants encouraged to help people move from the Belfast conurbation. All three centres will have major recreational and sports facilities and a network of community or neighbourhood centres.

Many new boards have been set up to control the administration of services - Education and Libraries - Health and Personal Welfare, the Housing Executive and so on. It will be Unionist Policy to see that these are closely responsive to the needs and wishes of the people they serve. They will be responsible to the respective Head of Department and open to scrutiny in the Assembly. Unionists will work to ensure that these boards do their jobs effectively.

Demand in Northern Ireland is doubling every eight years. It was Unionist Policy to amalgamate the three Northern Ireland Electricity undertakings. It will be Unionist policy to ensure that sufficient investment and capital expansion is undertaken in Electricity supply to meet the growing needs of the private and industrial consumer. The possibility of alternative sources of power will be closely studied as will the continuing co-operation between North and South.

Music, art and drama are important elements in the life of any civilised community. The formation of the Ulster Orchestra and the wide-ranging activities of the Arts Council have helped to enrich the lives of Ulster people.

  • We shall continue to support the Arts Council.
  • We shall continue to encourage interest in the culture and traditions of Ulster people.
  • Ulster’s farming and industrial interests will need to be protected in the EEC.
  • We shall organise a central marketing strategy.
  • We shall improve transport facilities between Ulster, Europe and Great Britain.



This Manifesto has been drawn up following publication of the White Paper and the Constitution Bill on the future of Northern Ireland by the British Government.
It should be seen that we do not take up the rigid position of ‘totally rejecting’ or ‘totally accepting’ the Westminster proposals. We have shown in this manifesto how we will use the Assembly to the best advantage of Northern Ireland.
We believe the policies of our Party to be realistic and practical. They are concerned with the destiny and welfare of our people and not with taking attitudes for or against a printed paper. If our policies are endorsed by the electorate we will have a right to look for the necessary means and opportunities to implement them.



We do not approach the future with fear. We approach it confident in the good sense and goodwill of the Ulster people. Given the support of the people of Ulster we can develop and mould the new structures into the kind of Government and Parliament which Northern Ireland needs.


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