Party leader hits out at former mayor of Lisburn

Seamus Close
Seamus Close

A former Mayor of Lisburn and Freeman of the City has been harshly criticised by his former party leader after a heated exchange on the issue of a united Ireland.

Seamus Close, who retired at the last election and was one of the longest serving councillors in Lisburn, spoke out against comments made by the Alliance Party’s European candidate Anna Lo, who said she was in support of a united Ireland.

In an interview Ms Lo said “I think it is such a small place…To divide it up and the corner of Ireland to be part of the United Kingdom… it’s very artificial.”

Ms Lo went on to say that she is “anti-colonial” and said that a united Ireland would be “better placed economically, socially and politically”.

Her comments were met with shock by many in the Party, including former Chairman and Deputy Leader, Mr Close, who said her comments were “naive and damaging to the party”.

Responding to Mr Close, Alliance Party Leader David Ford said: “Seamus says a lot of things at different times as a paid commentator for the BBC. He’s not a party member, he’s not particularly in touch with party thinking, to the best of my knowledge he hasn’t been on the doorstep with an Alliance party team for many years so I’m not sure how he’d know how people are reacting.”

Reacting furiously to Mr Ford’s comments, Mr Close said: “Maybe David would like to publicly debate on real principles of Alliance to explain how out of touch I am?”