Party General Secretary, Stephen Farry stated: “The Alliance Party has long pushed Government to accept the notion that Northern Ireland cannot be governed on the basis of managed separation or ‘benign apartheid’. Lord Rooker’s announcement today indicates a welcome Government commitment to recognizing that point – now we need action to back it up.
“The detail of this plan is clear. Our view that sharing is to be mainstreamed right across all policies and practices of Government Departments and agencies, from policing to planning, from health to housing, has been fully accepted.
“The Plan endorses a large number of our proposals. The presumption of a shared education ethos for new schools, a Football Offences Act and other policies are all excellent news for the future.
“Crucially, there is an acknowledgement of economic and financial costs of separate provision of goods, facilities and services. These figures are to be properly audited. Already, we estimate that around £1 billion is wasted each year on managing a divided society. In the long run, the provisions of shared services will save money for us all, and the Government has accepted this.
“There are a number of immediate challenges for Government. First of all, there must be leadership within Government to ensure that Departments and agencies not only deliver on today’s commitments, but are challenged to go further. Second, a full monitoring regime, with specific targets for change must be devised. Third, money will have to be invested in the short-run in order to produce longer-term savings.
Funds will need to be earmarked within the Comprehensive Spending Review in order to invest in sharing.”
“We have a long way to go, but it seems we are on the right road.”