Northern Ireland

Former DUP special adviser calls for ‘strong relationship’ with Republic

DUP councillor David Graham
Former DUP councillor, David Graham addressed the Hume Foundation 'Building Common Ground' discussion in Dublin on Thursday.

A former DUP special adviser and councillor has said that Northern Ireland must build a “strong relationship” with the Republic.

David Graham, who was a special adviser to former DUP Education Minister Peter Weir, was speaking at a “Building Common Ground” event in Dublin, organised by the John and Pat Hume Foundation.

Mr Graham has also worked as PR executive with Glasgow Rangers Football Club and stepped down as general manager of Linfield last month.

The “Building Common Ground” talk on Thursday examined “reconciling relationships” between Belfast, Dublin and London. Other speakers included former Sinn Féin special adviser Jarlath Kearney and Fine Gael senator Emer Currie.

Mr Graham said that as a unionist, he believed it was “vital” that he engage with people with opposing viewpoints about the future of the island of Ireland.

Speaking in advance of Thursday’s discussion, Mr Graham said: “A strong relationship with our nearest neighbour, built on a mutual respect and understanding, is vital to the long-term stability of our society.”

Mr Kearney said relations based on the three stands of the Good Friday Agreement have become brittle “over the past generation”. Reconciling relations was now more important than ever.

“These are no longer only the high-minded requirements of the Agreement (Good Friday); they are today the hard-nosed, practical priorities needed for successfully facing the future,” Mr Kearney said.

Hume Foundation secretary, Tim Attwood said the “Building Common Ground” series of talks aimed to create genuine and inclusive opportunities for dialogue to enhance relationships across Ireland and Britain.

The John and Pat Hume Foundation was established to develop the legacy of the late Nobel peace laureate Mr Hume and his wife, Pat.