ESCLUSIVA. INTERVISTA ALL’EX UUP DAVID McCLARTY, MLA INDIPENDENTE A STORMONT
Flavio Bacci intervista in esclusiva per The Five Demands David McClarty, MLA per East Londonderry. Con alle spalle un passato tra le file dell’UUP, McClarty è oggi l’unico parlamentare a Stormont non affiliato ad alcun gruppo politico. Come sempre in occasione delle nostre interviste in esclusiva, viene data la precedenza alla versione in lingua inglese
Who is David McClarty
David McClarty was born in 1953 in Coleraine in the East Londonderry Constituency, which he now represents in the Stormont Assembly. It was in his native Coleraine, that he took his first steps into politics: becoming a councilor for the city in 1989 and then he went on to became the Mayor between 1993 and 1995.
He was a UUP MLA, ever since the first devolved Assembly in 1998, he also held the office of deputy Speaker between 2007 and 2011. He has since resigned from the party and in the May 2011 Assembly Elections McClarty was re-elected as MLA for East Londonderry. Despite the courtships of UUP and Alliance, he has decided to remain the only Independent MLA in Stormont.
Interview by Flavio Bacci
First of all, we would thank David McClarty, Independent MLA, for having devoted his precious time to answer these questions.
F.B. Mr McClarty, you are an experienced politician, having been an MLA since 1998. In those 14 years Northern Irish politics has dramatically changed; what are the political and historical events that have impressed or had the greatest impact for you?
D.M. The Good Friday Agreement which has provided the basis for a settlement in NI where the aspirations of all were acknowledged. I was involved with the talks at St Andrews which resulted in full involvement of the DUP who previously abstained from the process.
F.B. After the brief term with Tom Elliott at the helm of the Ulster Unionists, Mike Nesbitt was recently declared leader. Do you think that he is the right man to stop the hemorrhaging of votes from theUUP?
D.M. I do. He brings no baggage to politics and therefore I believe he will have new and fresh ideas. Further more his expertise in dealing with the media is important. Many people’s political opinions are formed by reading or listening to the media.
F.B. The reasons that led to your resignation from the UUP in 2011 are still not veryclear. Would you explain why you moved away from the party in which you have served for so many years?
D.M. The petty jealousies within my constituency group of the party led me to leave the UUP. I was deselected from representing them as a candidate in the 2011 Assembly elections, despite the fact that I had won three previous elections and was the party’s top vote catcher in the constituency. I was therefore forced to resign from the party to fight for my seat.
F.B. Before you left the UUP, the party signed an agreement with the Conservatives. What was your position on that?
D.M. I fully supported the link with the Conservatives because I felt the party was trying to move away from the tribal politics of Northern Ireland, become much more inclusive to the electorate and become fully integrated into British mainstream politics.
F.B. As an Independent within the Legislative Assembly,is it more difficult for you to assert your own voice without a supporting political group?
D.M. No, because the NI Assembly is not a typical government, in that the Executive is made up of the five main parties. My voice is one of very few voice of opposition.
F.B. The Union and the unionist question has always been at the centre of your political action and decisions. But what does it mean to be unionist today?
D.M. It means being part of a larger, more sustainable nation which is culturally strong and which has huge economic benefits for the people of NI
F.B. The unionist unity is still an hot topic. Do you thinkthere could bethe foundation for the establishment ofa singleunionist party?
D.M. No. I do not believe that Unionism can or will unite because there will always be variations of Unionism. Within Unionism there are fundamentalists with traditional views and liberal unionists. Nevertheless that is not to say there will not be cooperation on some issues.
F.B. On your personal website (David McClarty), you emphasizethat, as a MLA, you will workfor the whole community. It is clear that you are trying to bring together the varioussouls of your constituency (East Londonderry), without any distinction. What do you believe are the practical solutions to overcome the barriers which still divide the unionist and nationalist communities?
D.M. If I can demonstrate my respect for other peoples’ point of view and respect their right to hold that point of view and receive the same respect in return, I believe we are well on our way to becoming a much more democratic and peaceful society.
F.B. The economic crisis has greatly affected your constituency: the case of the 300 workers of the Driverand Vehicle Agencyis a perfect example of how many workers are losingt heir jobs in Northern Ireland. What steps did you take in an effort to stem job losses in East Londonderry?
D.M. Within the current economic climate, it is a battle to attract jobs and underpin existing jobs. But I believe it is necessary to point out that with every downturn there will be always an upturn. We must prepare our workers for that upturn when it comes by educating them and providing them with new skills in a modern job market.