In only its second poll outing, Dromore-based political party, Democracy First, is to field a candidate in next year’s Assembly elections.
Now, as then, that candidate will be local man Frazer McCammond.
A one-time Alliance Party executive member, Mr McCammond took a council seat in Lisburn North in 1993 and held it until 2001, despite resigning from Alliance in 2000, citing discontent with the leadership style at the time.
Alliance, he says now, no longer represents his political views, having “shifted fundamentally as a liberal party”.
The man behind Dromore’s social enterprise, ‘Canvastone’, Mr McCammond was Democracy First’s sole candidate in last year’s local government elections, winning 2.1% of the vote, which, “drilled down to Dromore,” he said, came in at 5.6%.
In September this year, with Stormont in the grip of crisis, he urged people to come forward as potential election candidates for Democracy First, insisting there could be no moving on with “the same old faces and the same old diehard attitudes”.
Announcing his upcoming candidacy, Mr McCammond took the opportunity to reach out to members of other parties with an assurance that, should they consider jumping ship, Democracy First offered a political home at ease with faith values.
“Following the vote in the Assembly on same sex marriage,” he said, “Democracy First believes it is important that people of faith and no faith, who believe that marriage is a covenant relationship between one man and one woman, as opposed to a civil contract of multiple permutations, have the opportunity of political representation in the public square on a cross-community basis.
“Democracy First recognises there are other parties who share their views on moral issues but who do not necessarily provide a comfortable home for other cultural and political viewpoints.
“It has become extremely evident for a significant number of political representatives at both local government and assembly level that the conflict between faith and a pervasive human rights agenda is one that is irreconcilable.
“Democracy First therefore takes this opportunity to reach out particularly to members of UUP, SDLP and APNI who are uncomfortable with party lines or the increasing pressure being brought to bear by vocal groups and the Press, to consider Democracy First as a future political home, where faith values will be embraced and defended.”
That said, he added: “Founded on clear values of principled pluralism, justice, reconciliation, wise stewardship, active compassion and respect for life, Democracy First seeks a community and government not predicated along historical sectarian lines, going beyond the current political aspirations of a tolerant and respectful community to one where everyone is accepted for who and what they are.”
Politically, he said, Democracy First looked to the Good Friday Agreement as its first point of reference.
“It is the view of Democracy First,” he said, “that the constitutional position in Northern Ireland is secure for this lifetime and beyond, that it has been a failure of Unionist/Nationalist/Republican leaderships in being unequivocal and truthful about this since 1998 that has contributed to much of the current disagreement at Stormont.
“There has been a distinct lack of leadership by political parties in general.”
Of fundamental importance to Democracy First, he said, was a society where symbols of culture could be respectfully, publicly displayed without seeking to offend, with others slow to take offence; an economic path to address widespread poverty while grasping the issue of welfare reform and closing “the significant pay disparity between NI and the rest of the UK and ROI” and the right of people of faith to express their beliefs and make a positive contribution to the wellbeing of society without fear of retribution, while at the same time accepting that others have equally strongly held opposing views and the same respectful right to speak.