22/11/2016 Spotlight


22/11/2016

Hard-hitting investigations on the stories that matter in Northern Ireland. Mandy McAuley talks to Naomi Long about the challenges facing her as the leader of the Alliance Party.


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Transcript


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I am delighted to declare Naomi Long MLA elected as party leader.

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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

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Alliance have a new leader.

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What unites us and what makes us strong are our shared beliefs

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and our common values,

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a shared belief that our society can thrive...

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Naomi Long promises to renew the Alliance Party.

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But can she transform the fortunes of a small party

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that's outside the Executive and outside the official opposition?

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I followed Naomi Long in the run-up to her election,

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unopposed, as leader.

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Alliance normally attracts your middle of the road, do-gooder types,

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maybe a wee bit dull, and there's one thing about Naomi Long -

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she isn't wishy-washy.

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Four years ago, she was under death threat from Loyalist paramilitaries,

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targeted after Alliance backed a vote

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to restrict the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall.

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No surrender!

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Tonight, Naomi Long lays the blame for the violence

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that engulfed her and her party over the flag protests

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firmly with the DUP and the UUP.

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They whipped it up to a point

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where it was then beyond their control to stop it.

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She unveils her alternative vision to Unionism.

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You've said you're not a Unionist, but do you care about the union?

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Would it make life easier for me if I pretended I was a Unionist?

1:52:011:52:05

Maybe it would, but it's not who I am.

1:52:051:52:07

And she talks for the first time

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about a major health scare she suffered

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while under death threat from the UVF.

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Whatever threats people can make,

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there's nothing quite as frightening

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as when your own body is working against you.

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The new Alliance leader was born 44 years ago

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into the Mersey Street area of East Belfast.

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Home was a two-up two-down house

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in a traditional working-class Unionist community

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in the shadow of the Harland & Wolff cranes.

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She was the only child of Emily and James Johnston.

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Emily was a Presbyterian Sunday school teacher.

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James was an engineer in the shipyard.

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The school that I went to and indeed that my parents went to behind me,

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kind of diagonally opposite, is Mersey Street Presbyterian Church.

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That's where I went to Guides and Rangers

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and that's where I went to youth fellowship.

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What is now Oval Court, but you can see those two houses,

1:53:221:53:26

there was a row of about... Well, there was a street there,

1:53:261:53:28

Downpatrick Street and I grew up in number 17.

1:53:281:53:31

It was all in this area, kind of right in the shadow

1:53:311:53:34

of Samson and Goliath and right beside the Oval.

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Young Naomi was surrounded by flags and emblems.

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Her dad was in the Orange Order and the Royal Black Preceptory.

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He was master of the local lodge, and she remembers bands

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marching off from the front of their home on the 12th of July.

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We had the 12th left our house, I think, twice,

1:53:551:53:58

while I was growing up.

1:53:581:54:00

They used to head up to Templemore Avenue

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and to District Six to join with the rest of the parade up there.

1:54:021:54:06

-So this is where you went to school?

-It is.

-Mersey Street.

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It is, Mersey Street Primary School.

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These were some of our primary photographs.

1:54:131:54:16

Our class photos. That was me in P3.

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Mrs Little, one of my favourite teachers.

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This is where the headmaster's office kind of was,

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in this corridor. There was a school office. Headmaster's office.

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So you were only here if there was kind of bad news

1:54:301:54:34

-or you were really bad.

-Were you ever bad?

-Not really.

1:54:341:54:38

I was never sent here for anything bad.

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The only time I was sent to the headmaster's office,

1:54:391:54:42

it was bad news. And it was that my dad had taken ill

1:54:421:54:44

and was taken into hospital. He had a stroke.

1:54:441:54:46

James Johnston never worked again.

1:54:511:54:54

Two years later, he died of a heart attack

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on the street outside their home.

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After her dad's death, she says an incident happened

1:55:001:55:03

that affected her deeply,

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a defining moment that would help shape her political beliefs.

1:55:051:55:10

Her mum, Emily, an outspoken woman,

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stood up to Loyalists who she believed were trying bully her.

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When workers from the Irish Republic arrived in Mersey Street

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to build Housing Executive flats, she disagreed with Loyalist plans

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to paint the kerbs red, white and blue

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and she refused to help pay for it.

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They came round to do a collection to get money

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to paint the kerbs and my mum said no.

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She also wasn't happy because she knew it was being done

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because of the workmen.

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And the next morning when she got up and lifted the blind,

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there was a massive Union flag painted outside the house

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with "No surrender, remember 1690" on it, you know.

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And that was the message, I guess to her, you know,

1:55:521:55:54

that you don't express your opinions unless they're in agreement

1:55:541:55:58

with everyone else. It did shake her.

1:55:581:56:01

You know, internally, she was nervous about what had happened,

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but she was determined to stand up for herself.

1:56:051:56:09

It wasn't that she minded the flag, it wasn't that she was anti-flag,

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it wasn't anything like that.

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It was just she didn't like it being abused to try and exert control

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and that has, I guess...

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That has been something that's very deep in me, too.

1:56:231:56:26

Emily Johnston's stand would lay the groundwork

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for her daughter's political vision,

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and challenge her to seek out an alternative to mainstream Unionism.

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Naomi Long joined the Alliance Party while studying engineering

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as a student at Queen's University.

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She became MLA for her home constituency in 2003.

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Thank you very much. It was lovely.

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But her most significant, show-stopping moment came in 2010,

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when she sensationally defeated Peter Robinson

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in the Westminster election, becoming the first non-Unionist MP

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to represent East Belfast.

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And I declare that Naomi Long has been elected to serve in Parliament,

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-for the East Belfast constituency.

-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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It was an extraordinary victory for her

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and a massive defeat for Unionism.

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Peter Robinson had held the safe seat for over 30 years.

1:57:301:57:35

From that moment, Naomi Long was the target of Unionists

1:57:351:57:39

determined to win it back.

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That scared Unionism, which had spent the past 50 years

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telling people you must vote for this person.

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This person is a Unionist,

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this person believes in the flag and suddenly, out of nowhere,

1:57:501:57:53

in 2010, an Alliance candidate,

1:57:531:57:56

someone like Naomi Long,

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a woman, for goodness' sake!

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Instead of these parties going, "Why did we lose?"

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which is the real thing you do when you lose an election,

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it was a, "Well, it's her fault,

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"she's part of a bigger conspiracy, we must get together to stop this."

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The opportunity to stop Naomi Long arose two years later,

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when a dispute over a proposal to restrict the flying

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of the Union flag over Belfast City Hall to designated days,

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enabled the DUP and UUP to portray her and the Alliance Party

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as enemies of the union.

1:58:281:58:30

Weeks before the crucial vote,

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thousands of leaflets were distributed across the city.

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They were produced by the DUP and UUP.

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DUP counsellors helped to pay for and distribute them.

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A perfectly legitimate factual leaflet was put out

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by the Unionist representatives in Belfast City Council.

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The leaflet was about awareness raising

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in the hope that people would go to those

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who had the casting votes, the Alliance Party,

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and persuade them to support the flying of the flag.

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The leaflet, printed in yellow - Alliance's colours -

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listed contact details for the party headquarters and Naomi Long.

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She believes it was a clear attempt to lay political blame

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over the flag issue at her feet,

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even though she was not on Belfast City Council

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and didn't have a vote.

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I think the leaflet was about making me a figure of hate

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for Unionists in East Belfast

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in order that I would lose the seat in Westminster,

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or leave the seat in Westminster,

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and I don't think they cared too much either way which it was.

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But I think it was completely politically motivated.

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I don't think it was about the flag.

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The DUP have denied

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that they produced the leaflet to damage her.

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They dismiss suggestions that the campaign was focused

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on East Belfast as nonsense.

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Contact details for all Alliance offices in Belfast

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were given out, they say.

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But in 2012, there were only two Alliance offices in the city.

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Party HQ in South Belfast

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and Naomi Long's East Belfast constituency office.

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The DUP say they provided publicly available details for both offices,

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not for individual representatives.

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But they did single out Naomi Long, who was the only Alliance member

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named in the leaflet.

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While it urges respect, it also accuses her and her party

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of wanting to rip and tear down the Union flag

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on all but a few days.

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When the motion was passed at City Hall,

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violence erupted within minutes.

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SIRENS AND YELLING

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No surrender!

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It continued to escalate.

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Naomi Long was one of those who bore the brunt of Loyalist anger.

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She received her first death threat days after the vote.

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I had just gone to bed and we got a rap on the door

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from the police.

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And they told me that... Very bluntly, that a threat

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had been issued, that if I returned to my office or stayed at my home,

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I would be shot.

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And that it had come from a paramilitary organisation

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with recognised codewords.

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Between 2012 and 2013,

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the MP for East Belfast received five death threats.

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Police confirmed some of them were from the UVF.

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Alliance offices were picketed and petrol bombed

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and staff assaulted.

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It was almost impossible for them at times to function

2:01:512:01:54

because of protesters outside and yet she didn't back down.

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A PSNI officer on duty outside Naomi Long's office

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was almost killed when a bomb was thrown through the window

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of a police car.

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Did you, at any time,

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think, "Something might happen, I could get shot here?"

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Yes, I did. I don't think I'm invincible.

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Erm, but...

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At the end of the day, I have a strong faith.

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If something's going to happen, it's going to happen.

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There isn't anything that I can do to change that, by a day or an hour,

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it's not in my gift.

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She says she recognised faces in the mob.

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She was being attacked by some of her old neighbours

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and people she went to school with.

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That was an odd experience.

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Because they weren't just faceless people,

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they were people that I knew.

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-How do you deal with that?

-I didn't feel afraid of them,

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because they weren't scary people - they were angry people.

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And I don't entirely blame the people in the protest

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for that anger, but I do blame those who whipped it up.

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The DUP and UUP leaders appealed for the protest to stop.

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Anyone who attacks a police officer,

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anyone who attacks an elected politician,

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anyone who attacks any individual,

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fails to understand the values that encapsulate the Union flag.

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There is no rationale. How do you call yourself a Loyalist

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and then throw a petrol bomb into the back of a police car?

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I mean, it is absurd.

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But Naomi Long says those appeals came too late for her and her party.

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Do you think they anticipated the violence that happened?

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Erm... Probably... Probably not.

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But I don't know that they really cared one way or the other

2:03:442:03:47

when they delivered the leaflets.

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I mean, the leaflets were written in such a way

2:03:502:03:53

that they were designed to wind people up.

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Both the UUP and DUP have categorically denied any attempt

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to whip up hatred.

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No-one was out on the streets after that leaflet was put out.

2:04:032:04:06

No-one was out on the streets.

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It wasn't until the vote was taken

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and parties decided that they wanted to alter the status quo

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that people came on the streets.

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The leaflet campaign, the awareness campaign, failed,

2:04:142:04:16

but it didn't provoke the violence.

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It was the result of the vote that provoked the violence.

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There are those who accuse Naomi Long of being a hypocrite.

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She condemned Loyalist demonstrations,

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but had been happy to reap the benefits of a Loyalist protest vote

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against Peter Robinson in 2010.

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Today, it's widely accepted that the PUP, historically linked to the UVF,

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then led by Dawn Purvis, encouraged members to support her,

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rather than the DUP.

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Well, I mean, it is levelled constantly, and it's a lie.

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If individual members of those organisations vote for me,

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I can't do anything about that.

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If they think that I'm providing representation

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that's good for them and their community,

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there's nothing I can or would want to change about that,

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but I have never sought their support,

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I have never had any kind of arrangements with them.

2:05:052:05:09

Did you canvas with Dawn Purvis in 2010 in East Belfast?

2:05:092:05:14

No! I didn't canvas with Dawn Purvis in any election anywhere.

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This is another piece of the "UVF supporting Alliance" myth.

2:05:192:05:23

Today, Naomi Long's home is still ringed with security sensors

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and has bombproof windows and doors.

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She shares her home with her husband, Michael, a dentist.

2:05:302:05:34

They've been together since they were 14.

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You're both in the Alliance Party.

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Obviously, you're a councillor. Is there ever any friction there?

2:05:382:05:42

Not really. We both got elected at the same time about 15 years ago

2:05:422:05:45

and my trajectory has kind of gone like that

2:05:452:05:48

and Naomi's has kind of gone like that!

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So... Yeah, I mean, you know,

2:05:502:05:53

Naomi has a lot of talents as a politician and, erm...

2:05:532:05:58

I know my place, don't I?

2:05:582:06:00

Not at all! Everybody assumes that I'm the feisty one

2:06:002:06:03

but anybody who has seen him in the chamber,

2:06:032:06:07

I can tell you, he's feisty enough when it suits him.

2:06:072:06:10

Do you ever get a word in edgeways?

2:06:102:06:12

Oh, yeah! Sometimes, when she's sleeping.

2:06:122:06:14

THEY LAUGH

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The couple were deeply affected by the flag protests.

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But Naomi Long says she would take the same stand again.

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Do you understand why people would say,

2:06:262:06:27

"Representative for East Belfast, how could you not have known

2:06:272:06:31

"that people would have been genuinely distressed, offended,

2:06:312:06:35

"by any attempt to remove the flag?"

2:06:352:06:38

Because it wasn't an attempt to remove the flag

2:06:382:06:41

and that's the fundamental lie in all of this.

2:06:412:06:44

The attempt to remove the flag was Sinn Fein's proposal,

2:06:442:06:47

that the flag should not fly.

2:06:472:06:49

Alliance didn't support that proposal.

2:06:492:06:53

Alliance supported a proposal to fly the flag in the same way

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as it's flown at the majority of council buildings

2:06:582:07:00

across the rest of the UK.

2:07:002:07:01

But four years on, the deep hurt and anger of those people

2:07:042:07:08

who felt betrayed by her stance has not diminished.

2:07:082:07:11

The Alliance leader grew up yards from Glentoran football ground.

2:07:132:07:17

Today, many fans bristle at the very mention of her name,

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including those who were not involved in the flag protests.

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I think she's a traitor to this area, to East Belfast.

2:07:252:07:28

And why do you think she's a traitor to this area?

2:07:282:07:30

Well, people elected her and she didn't do

2:07:302:07:31

-what she said she was going to do.

-What did you want her to do?

2:07:312:07:34

I wanted her to support the people of East Belfast.

2:07:342:07:37

I just think she's following the Sinn Fein agenda.

2:07:372:07:39

She's not pro-Unionist at all.

2:07:392:07:41

Do you think a non-Unionist

2:07:412:07:44

can represent the people of East Belfast?

2:07:442:07:46

-Some people in Alliance could do, but not Naomi.

-Why not Naomi?

2:07:462:07:50

Because - just her views. She's just anti-Unionist.

2:07:502:07:53

Do you agree with her politics?

2:07:532:07:54

-No, I do not.

-Why not?

-She's all one-sided.

2:07:542:07:58

Others believe Naomi Long does represent Unionists

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in East Belfast.

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She's hard-working, she comes from this area

2:08:032:08:06

and she's the right type of person.

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And what did you make of her stance on the flag protests?

2:08:082:08:12

Well... what's the difference? Was that not the policy in Stormont?

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Designated days.

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Why isn't it designated days for everywhere in this country?

2:08:182:08:21

At the very height of the violence around the flag protests,

2:08:242:08:28

Naomi Long had to deal with another threat, a major health scare.

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A mole on her wrist was skin cancer.

2:08:322:08:35

Can you remember where you were when they said,

2:08:352:08:37

"Look, you've got cancer?"

2:08:372:08:40

I was in my living room, because the person who had looked at my wrist

2:08:402:08:46

was a friend as well as my doctor and had come to tell me at home...

2:08:462:08:52

Erm... What it was. But I knew.

2:08:522:08:56

I guess a cancer diagnosis

2:08:562:08:58

kind of puts a bullet in the post in perspective.

2:08:582:09:01

Because, you know, whatever politics can do to you,

2:09:012:09:04

whatever threats people can make, there's nothing quite as frightening

2:09:042:09:07

as when your own body is working against you.

2:09:072:09:10

It was just...pure devastation to find out that this is what it was.

2:09:112:09:17

It was malignant melanoma and...

2:09:172:09:21

Just that it wasn't...

2:09:212:09:23

It had been there for a wee while,

2:09:232:09:24

and obviously that was of real concern. And...

2:09:242:09:29

..really, I think, at that stage, you're just wondering

2:09:302:09:32

what was coming next, to be honest with you,

2:09:322:09:34

between the flag stuff and everything else.

2:09:342:09:38

I had to go back for further surgery

2:09:382:09:40

where I had an additional part of my skin

2:09:402:09:45

on my wrist removed around it, a sort of safe zone.

2:09:452:09:47

And my arm then had to be reflected back and put in a cast

2:09:492:09:52

to avoid me having a skin graft.

2:09:522:09:55

Once the cancer was cut out,

2:09:552:09:57

there was no need for further treatment,

2:09:572:09:59

but there would be more health scares in the coming months.

2:09:592:10:03

I think it was within about six months

2:10:032:10:05

that there was another kind of lesion was found. And...

2:10:052:10:10

I think that just really knocked us for six at that point,

2:10:102:10:13

because we kind of thought you were getting over it a bit,

2:10:132:10:17

and then this happened again.

2:10:172:10:20

Where are you now with your diagnosis?

2:10:222:10:25

Three and a half years clear. And feeling good.

2:10:252:10:28

I've had two other moles removed which were fine,

2:10:282:10:30

but I'm obviously really cautious now,

2:10:302:10:33

so anything at all that gives me any trouble,

2:10:332:10:36

I get it looked at immediately and preferably removed.

2:10:362:10:40

She says she's talking about it now

2:10:412:10:43

to help raise awareness about skin cancer.

2:10:432:10:45

If I had talked about it then,

2:10:462:10:48

it would have been portrayed as me wishing to be a victim.

2:10:482:10:50

And I'm nobody's victim.

2:10:502:10:52

I didn't want anyone to think I was seeking sympathy.

2:10:522:10:56

She was determined, she says, to keep going,

2:10:562:10:59

but Unionists were determined that she wouldn't be back at Westminster.

2:10:592:11:04

In 2015, they joined forces, forming a pact

2:11:042:11:09

to ensure Gavin Robinson of the DUP

2:11:092:11:12

could win back the East Belfast seat for Unionism.

2:11:122:11:15

The DUP and Ulster Unionists unveiled an electoral pact

2:11:162:11:20

covering four general election constituencies.

2:11:202:11:23

The DUP did not field candidates

2:11:232:11:26

in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and Newry and Armagh.

2:11:262:11:30

The UUP gave the DUP a clear run at Westminster

2:11:302:11:33

in North and East Belfast.

2:11:332:11:36

East Belfast, once one of the electoral

2:11:362:11:38

jewels of Unionism's crown.

2:11:382:11:41

She had made it an unsafe seat for Unionism.

2:11:412:11:43

They had to do a pact to make sure they could win the seat back.

2:11:432:11:47

The strength of the animosity that existed

2:11:482:11:51

between the DUP and Naomi Long

2:11:512:11:53

was evident in Gavin Robinson's acceptance speech.

2:11:532:11:57

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted the last five long years are over.

2:11:572:12:03

CHEERING

2:12:032:12:05

With the Unionist vote united around one candidate,

2:12:102:12:14

Naomi Long was defeated, even though she increased her vote by 4,000.

2:12:142:12:19

After her defeat, Naomi Long and her husband took six months out

2:12:202:12:24

to travel the world.

2:12:242:12:26

She considered leaving politics for good.

2:12:262:12:29

I didn't go to any meetings, any political meetings,

2:12:292:12:32

I didn't watch political television. I switched off completely.

2:12:322:12:37

But, she says, in the end she realised her future lay in politics.

2:12:372:12:42

I just felt that for me, it was the right thing to be doing,

2:12:422:12:46

it was something that I really enjoy.

2:12:462:12:48

As Alliance Leader, Naomi Long's biggest challenge

2:12:522:12:56

will be to carve out a significant role,

2:12:562:12:58

a relevant voice for a small party that's not in government,

2:12:582:13:03

not in opposition, and that still struggles to be heard

2:13:032:13:07

outside its power base of greater Belfast.

2:13:072:13:11

If we're talking about our strength as a society being diversity...

2:13:122:13:17

But Naomi Long is confident that she can attract new voters.

2:13:172:13:21

We have a challenge in terms of integrating communities.

2:13:222:13:26

People with different sexualities who feel excluded from society.

2:13:262:13:31

We have people who come here from other places

2:13:312:13:34

and from ethnic minority backgrounds,

2:13:342:13:37

who often keep their head down in politics.

2:13:372:13:39

My vision for the Alliance Party is to build on the diversity

2:13:392:13:43

that we have as a party.

2:13:432:13:45

But how much appeal will that vision have

2:13:452:13:47

with voters across Northern Ireland?

2:13:472:13:50

She did attract votes from all across the political spectrum

2:13:502:13:53

in East Belfast, but they were very specific circumstances

2:13:532:13:56

and there was a lot of sympathy towards Naomi Long.

2:13:562:13:59

Can she do it across Northern Ireland? That remains to be seen.

2:13:592:14:03

I think she's in for a very tough time in terms of attracting voters

2:14:032:14:06

to Alliance west of the Bann.

2:14:062:14:07

I don't think Alliance's agenda necessarily appeals there.

2:14:072:14:11

And in working-class Catholic areas,

2:14:112:14:13

I really can't see Alliance breaking through.

2:14:132:14:17

Naomi Long has a strong Christian faith

2:14:172:14:19

but she says that doesn't constrain her vision

2:14:192:14:23

of a progressive, liberal society.

2:14:232:14:25

But her liberal views have already caused tension

2:14:252:14:29

with more conservative Christians within her church.

2:14:292:14:32

I think if she was an atheist, if she was agnostic,

2:14:332:14:35

she would be easier to deal with,

2:14:352:14:37

because this woman does go to church on a Sunday

2:14:372:14:39

and yet holds these liberal views.

2:14:392:14:41

So it's very, very hard to put her down as being anti-God

2:14:412:14:44

or some kind of dangerous radical.

2:14:442:14:47

The new Alliance leader has made legalisation of same-sex marriage

2:14:492:14:53

and abortion in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality

2:14:532:14:58

her priorities, but her liberal social agenda

2:14:582:15:01

does not appeal to everyone.

2:15:012:15:04

I think she needs to be careful,

2:15:042:15:05

first of all in assuming that all her party back her.

2:15:052:15:07

There is probably quite a sizeable section of the Alliance vote

2:15:072:15:11

which would be uncomfortable with same-sex marriage.

2:15:112:15:14

Many of them would also be uncomfortable

2:15:142:15:16

with the abortion changes.

2:15:162:15:18

I'm simply saying because you take a position

2:15:182:15:20

on the socio-moral ground, again that may not necessarily translate

2:15:202:15:24

into votes at a later stage.

2:15:242:15:26

Same-sex marriage has already caused a public disagreement

2:15:262:15:29

between the Presbyterian Church and the Alliance party.

2:15:292:15:33

Justice Minister David Ford has been removed from his role as an elder

2:15:332:15:38

in his local Presbyterian church.

2:15:382:15:40

Naomi Long is a member of Bloomfield Presbyterian Church

2:15:412:15:44

in East Belfast.

2:15:442:15:46

Her minister, Dr Frank Sellar, is the Presbyterian Moderator.

2:15:462:15:50

He agreed to talk to me as her minister and says he admires

2:15:502:15:54

her public expression of faith.

2:15:542:15:56

Simply because somebody is a Christian doesn't mean to say

2:15:562:15:59

they have to hide that under a bush.

2:15:592:16:02

So it is right that politicians should express their Christian faith

2:16:022:16:06

in whatever way they can.

2:16:062:16:07

But he says they have repeatedly clashed

2:16:072:16:10

on the issue of same-sex marriage.

2:16:102:16:12

Well, Naomi and I have had robust conversations.

2:16:132:16:17

They really have been quite upfront.

2:16:172:16:19

She knows the position, the historic position

2:16:192:16:22

of the Christian church,

2:16:222:16:24

that marriage is between one man and one woman.

2:16:242:16:27

And just because this, as it were, is the flavour of the month,

2:16:272:16:31

doesn't mean to say that the historic position of the church

2:16:312:16:34

is going to change on that matter.

2:16:342:16:36

People may or may not accept it.

2:16:362:16:39

We don't... We're are not in the business of being popular.

2:16:392:16:42

Naomi Long says her minister's views

2:16:422:16:45

won't deter her from promoting same-sex marriage.

2:16:452:16:49

He is entitled to a view, he is entitled to express it, as am I.

2:16:492:16:53

But for many, however successful her liberal vision may or may not be,

2:16:552:17:00

as leader, it's her attitude to the union that really matters.

2:17:002:17:05

It always comes back to the issue, where do you stand on the union?

2:17:052:17:09

And it doesn't matter what other vision you have,

2:17:092:17:12

an economic vision, moral vision, social vision,

2:17:122:17:14

none of that really matters

2:17:142:17:15

if people say, "Well, actually, I'm with you on that,

2:17:152:17:18

"but my priority is you making sure that Northern Ireland

2:17:182:17:21

"either stays in the UK or we pave a path to a united Ireland."

2:17:212:17:24

Because the voters care one way or the other.

2:17:242:17:28

But the union simply isn't a priority for Naomi Long.

2:17:282:17:32

You've said you're not a Unionist but do you care about the union?

2:17:332:17:38

Well, I care about Northern Ireland and its future

2:17:382:17:40

and I care about the people who live here.

2:17:402:17:44

-And the end of the day...

-Do you care about the union?

2:17:442:17:47

Does it get me out of bed in the morning?

2:17:472:17:49

Would it drive me to stay in politics when I was deciding last...

2:17:492:17:54

December, what I was going to do with my future,

2:17:542:17:56

was the union at the forefront of my decision making? No, it wasn't.

2:17:562:18:00

It was society in Northern Ireland and what it could be like.

2:18:002:18:03

I'm not going to say that I am something that I'm not.

2:18:032:18:07

I'm going to be the person that I am and be honest about it.

2:18:072:18:09

So, yes, would it make life easier for me

2:18:092:18:12

if I pretended I was a Unionist?

2:18:122:18:13

Maybe it would. But it's not who I am. It wouldn't be honest.

2:18:132:18:18

Her position on the union is in stark contrast

2:18:182:18:21

to that of the First Minister, who, like Naomi Long,

2:18:212:18:24

is the first woman to lead her party.

2:18:242:18:27

She says she is surprised by Arlene Foster's leadership style.

2:18:272:18:30

Take the stuff around the All-Ireland Brexit Forum.

2:18:322:18:35

You know, you'd expect the First Minister,

2:18:352:18:37

if they weren't going to participate,

2:18:372:18:39

to simply decline politely, you know,

2:18:392:18:42

not to call it a sort of a forum for "Remoaners".

2:18:422:18:48

I find that approach probably in some ways less pragmatic

2:18:482:18:53

and at times slightly less finessed than her predecessor,

2:18:532:18:58

and I never thought I would be in a position where I thought that.

2:18:582:19:02

Observers say their contrasting approaches

2:19:042:19:07

will make the next five years at Stormont particularly interesting.

2:19:072:19:11

In some ways Naomi Long and Arlene Foster are very, very alike.

2:19:132:19:16

They're both strong women, they both have a bit of a temper.

2:19:162:19:19

And they're both head and shoulders above the men in their own parties.

2:19:192:19:22

Now, their politics are very different.

2:19:222:19:25

Naomi is liberal and progressive

2:19:252:19:26

and Arlene, even though she isn't a traditional woman,

2:19:262:19:29

has traditional politics.

2:19:292:19:32

Are they going to clash? I think so.

2:19:322:19:34

Will there be ding-dong battles in Stormont? Yes.

2:19:342:19:37

But the most formidable challenge for Naomi Long

2:19:382:19:41

will be outside Stormont -

2:19:412:19:44

to win more votes for a vision of politics

2:19:442:19:46

not dominated by flags and the Constitution.

2:19:462:19:50

And in Northern Ireland, that continues to be an uphill battle.

2:19:502:19:54

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