Alliance’s Party Council, held in East Belfast on Saturday (September 5), heard from Mr Ford, who told members the talks needed to cover implementation of the Stormont House Agreement, reform of the institutions and the influence of paramilitarism in society.
David Ford said: “There is undoubtedly a crisis ongoing at the Assembly, but that is the real issue. It seems there is a crisis every few months, which only receives a sticking plaster resolution and is pushed on down the road. We don’t want that repeated by these talks: we must have a successful, permanent resolution that ensures no further crises occur.
“We need to use these talks as a way to change the inherent problems in Northern Ireland, the difficulties that perpetuate the divisions which have led us to this point. The very Assembly structures are a significant part of the problem, as are parties who signed up to the previous agreement but have since backtracked. This latest crisis has been brought to a head by paramilitarism, which shows the need to tackle that poison.
“Alliance will be going into these talks with a clear message – devolution is the best option to make Northern Ireland better. But it is facing its biggest test and if we do not resolve these problems, it and the faith of the public may be gone for good.”