Young Unionist Chair calls for Alliance to own up to ties to Politrip fallout

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Young Unionist Chair calls for Alliance to own up to ties to Politrip fallout

The Ulster Young Unionist Chair, Ben Sharkey, has expressed his sympathies to those losing thousands of pounds following the financial collapse of the travel firm Politrip, and has called on the Alliance Party to accept ownership of their own ties to the organisation.

Politrip, which offered young people trips to the USA to join in election campaigning, was in debt of almost £60,000 to almost 90 young people when it went into liquidation in 2022. It was today [14/11/2023] announced that none of that money will be paid back.

Speaking on this confirmation, Mr Sharkey said: "My sympathies really go out to all those who have lost out on this failed scheme, and not just for the loss of money, but the loss of the experience and development that was obviously their first priority."

"What's clear is that the Alliance Party has more to admit regarding the nature of their relationship to the scheme. These young people have lost out on thousands of pounds and have a blank space on their CV to show for it. The alleged solution offered by the Alliance Party to make up for that was an "internship" to help them canvass in the 2022 Assembly campaign?"

"While their Party has previously denied setting up what could only be seen as self-serving arrangements, they have only had to do so because accusations of the same set-up have been targeted at them before, with the same future MLA being in the spotlight."

"As I see it, there are only three options for the truth here; either Alliance has lied about their offering internships after the collapse of Politrip, they are accusing the victims of this company going bust of lying to the media, or, the young people were mislead about the legitimacy of an internship and the Alliance party had no knowledge of it. Unless there is a fourth scenario I am not seeing, the Alliance Party need to make it clear where the truth lies."

"Sadly, even if that clarity is given, that doesn't do a lot for those who have lost out in so much. I can only say, as Chair of the Young Unionists, that I know Northern Irish politics would benefit from better youth engagement across the spectrum, and I hope that this misfortune doesn't tarnish the drive to engage that led them to want to take up this opportunity in the first place."