Agreement falls short of community expectation – Alliance

The Alliance Party has agreed to the implementation of the Heads of Agreement document produced as a result of talks between the five Executive parties and the two governments, but the party has expressed concern at the number of issues that remain to be resolved in the New Year. Left unaddressed, these will continue to undermine political stability and economic opportunities, and Alliance believes parties must be held to account for their commitments to resolve these outstanding issues.

David Ford said: “This deal falls short of Alliance’s ambitions and the expectations of the public. It is not the comprehensive Agreement we wanted, but appears to be the only deal other parties would agree to.

“Alliance has long highlighted the need for the parties and the two governments to address the issues that have been undermining political stability. Most significantly, we have fought long and hard to secure access to truth, justice and support services for victims. At last, the package on the past should provide better outcomes for victims. The paper includes Alliance’s proposal for a strong focus on reconciliation within the new structures.

“We also welcome the significant financial package from the UK government, targeted at some of the pressures that are particular to Northern Ireland, including the legacy of the past. Alliance has succeeded in ensuring that this financial support is not used to paper over the cracks in the Executive’s budget in the short term, but to make our long term public finances more sustainable, including by tackling the costs of division.

“We do have real concerns that some of the issues that prevent us sharing our community have received only partial solutions, or have been entirely passed on to other processes. People will ask why some parties think they will be able to reach agreements in January that they couldn’t manage over the last two years.

“On parades, the can has been kicked down the road again, right into the middle of another contentious marching season. Alliance has long called for a consistent Northern Ireland-wide policy to settle the divisive issue of flags, but this has not yet been achieved. These issues have poisoned the political atmosphere, created community tension and cost a fortune in policing and lost opportunities. If not dealt with properly, they could unravel the agreement that has been reached.

“The reforms to the political institutions, while worthy in themselves, fall far short of the reboot that is needed if the institutions are to deliver for people. There is no reason to delay the reduction in the number of MLAs.

“People are fed up and cynical about under performing political institutions, festering disagreements between political parties, and broken promises. They will want to see full implementation of this agreement, speedy resolution of the other outstanding issues, and an end to the slagging match of recent months.

“Alliance remains committed to holding others to account for the promises they have made, and to providing leadership and creativity in addressing the other matters that hold our community back.”


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