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With reference to material you have studied discuss the major policy differences between the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)

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Introduction

With reference to material you have studied discuss the major policy differences between the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Both the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) have been credited to a great degree with providing the impetus and continual drive which has culminated in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and the subsequent power sharing institutions which have been established as a result. They both have been unwavering in their support of the Stormont executive and have been unrelenting in their quest to see it succeed. Yet in a bitter twist of fate, both the UUP and the SDLP in recent years have both been eclipsed by their respective rivals, for the UUP this was the DUP who in the November 2003 assembly elections increased its number of assembly seats from 20 to 30, making it the largest party in the assembly and for the SDLP this was of course Sinn Fein's election gains which saw them displace the SDLP from their electoral positions. This remarkable development has come as a huge blow to both parties. ...read more.

Middle

Furthermore the UUP protested at the positive discrimination policy adopted by the PSNI whereby catholic recruits where selected before their protestant counterparts. The UUP have looked upon the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) with a degree of suspicion and mistrust. Although publicly and in the context of the Stormont executive they recognise the importance of the council to develop and strengthen mutual links with the ROI, for the purposes of trade and tourism and so on, they have been quick to dismiss any suggestion that the (NSMC) would act as the first step in the formalising and indeed the eventual path of a United Ireland, as SF would suggest. Whereas the North South Ministerial Council was viewed as a body through which nationalists could get a true and legitimate political link with the Republic of Ireland, which would ultimately bring nationalists closer to a united Ireland, the British Irish Council (BIC) was viewed as the British counter part to the NSMC. The UUP viewed the BIC as a channel for building on the existing union in the new context of regional governments. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally as far as education is concerned the SDLP have worked for student grants to be once again reintroduced. The SDLP are very pro-Europe. Through this assement of the various policies of both the SDLP and indeed the DUP, it is immediately obvious that the party's are quite polarised where the major constitutional issues are concerned. They follow the traditional nationalist/unionist stances respectively on issues such as decommissioning and demilitarisation. However on the non-constitutional issues such as education and health it is hard to highlight any major differences between the two parties. In this respect it is therefore not entirely absurd to presume that the parties through their relative continuity on issues such as education, agriculture and so on, which have long been overlooked by the major parties, the two can be pulled closer to each other and through this can begin to address and resolve the significantly more important issues such as policing and decommissioning. It must be hoped therefore, that ultimately both the SDLP and UUP can come full circle and once again become pioneers in Northern Irelands political landscape delivering further chances and pushing the floundering process ahead and thus ensuring a more positive future for all in NI. ...read more.

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