MLAs must state views

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FROM:- 2nd Year Student – name and address supplied.

I deliberately left it for a week before writing in follow up to the recent report in the ‘MAIL’ of the UUP’s decision to oppose the freeze in tuition fees. I did so in order to allow space for our two UUP MLAs Jo-Anne Dobson and Sam Gardiner to respond publicly to this shameful decision by their party colleagues.

It came as no surprise to me whatsoever that both Sam Gardiner’s and Jo-Anne Dobson’s public response to this UUP assault on ordinary hard working families was total silence.

Here we have a situation in which the Executive makes a decision to freeze tuition fees in order to help Lurgan families in a time of dire economic hardship. The UUP, through Sandra Overend MLA initially welcomed this decision – she even issued a press release saying that she was “delighted” at the decision. However, this was followed by comments from UUP MLA Basil McCrea criticising the decision. Then this too was followed by a suggestion from South Antrim UUP MLA Danny Kinahan that instead of a freeze on tuition fees the Executive should actually have considered an increase to £4,500 per year. And then on top of all that the UUP members of the NI Assembly DEL committee voted against the freeze.

And our two UUP MLAs Jo-Anne Dobson and Sam Gardiner simply refuse to tell us, the ordinary people, where they stand on this hugely important issue. Why are we not considered worthy of any clarification or explanation from our two UUP MLAs? Why is it that neither Jo-Anne Dobson or Sam Gardiner deign to favour us the ordinary electorate with any clear indication of where they stand on an issue that will have a very significant impact on household budgets right across Lurgan?

At the recent elections the UUP knocked my door and asked for my vote as no doubt they did with many hundreds of other households in Lurgan. Jo-Anne Dobson and Sam Gardiner were more than happy to come knocking and ask us the ordinary people to vote for them and keep them in highly paid positions. So why won’t they tell us whether or not they support the UUP’s position of opposing the freeze in tuition fees?

This simply is not good enough. It is not good enough to seek election and then treat the electorate in this manner. Jo-Anne Dobson and Sam Gardiner need to come out and tell us straight and plain – do they support the freeze on tuition fees as a measure to help hard pressed Lurgan families? Or do they support their UUP colleagues in their opposition to this assistance?