Why Catholic & Nationalist voters should give Ruth Patterson a vote 

The race for the six seats in South Belfast has been, and promises to be, one of the most exciting constituencies across the whole of Northern Ireland.

It is a brutal battle within Unionism- there is no point pretending otherwise- and ironically it could be Nationalist transfers that ultimately decide the fate of the final Unionist seat. 

The very basis of the DUP election campaign has been ‘vote for us to stop Martin McGuinness becoming first minister’. I don’t buy this because, as I have previously written, Martin McGuinness- legally and practically- already is the first minister. 

The DUP also fail to tell the electorate that a Sinn Fein first minister was made possible by the DUP approved St Andrews agreement. 

That is why I have re-worked the DUP’s #ForwardWithArlene slogan to a simple #ForwardWithTruth. The truth is that it is not Arlene Foster V Martin McGuinness. 

This attempt to fool the electorate is like saying we are going to have a do or die football match but without any nets. It’s going to end in a draw. No matter what happens on May 5th, it’s going to be an OFMDFM draw. 

The DUP version of Project Fear is designed to entrench the sectarian nature of politics, to use the crude mechanisms of mandatory coalition- underpinned by the St Andrews agreement- to ensure that they always have the ‘fear card’ to play and thus, our system of Government will always be based on the fundamental principle that one main tradition can never trust the other main tradition to govern. 

I believe that Catholics and Nationalists can have a friend in Ruth Patterson. On social issues, political accountability, housing, health and education- Ruth Patterson is a candidate that everyone should feel able to vote for. 

Ruth Patterson is an unashamed Unionist, but the principled and positive Unionism that we have tried to articulate during our campaign is one that is tolerant and above all else believes in the fundamental principles of democracy and law. 

Everyone should be equal at the ballot box and everyone should be equal under the law, and equally subject to the law. 

It is within this Unionism that resides the desire to see truly democratic politics take root in Northern Ireland. We do not need a perversion of democracy to live together, we simply need equality at the ballot box and equality under the law. 

Ruth Patterson can be a voice of accountability in Stormont, shining a light into areas that some want to remain hidden from the public. 

I relished the opportunity to shine a light into the dark corners of the Nama scandal. It did not matter that the wrong-doing allegedly came from within the biggest Unionist party, it was wrong and deserved to be exposed as such. 

I know that Ruth Patterson will challenge wrong-doing, inequality, political patronage or corruption if it raises its ugly head in Stormont. She will, I have no doubt, do so without fear or favour. 

On 5 May 2016 Catholics and Nationalists can transcend the tribal politics the DUP have espoused during this campaign and return the serve.  

A vote for Ruth Patterson is a vote for an unashamed Unionist, but a Unionist that will represent all of South Belfast equally. 

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