The Alliance Party has today released its response to the Governments’ Joint Declaration.
Speaking at a Press Conference this morning, Party Leader David Ford stated the Declaration was a product of a flawed process of negotiations. He added that while Alliance believes that the Joint Declaration can be the basis for further progress, the party has major concerns regarding a number of aspects of the document.
David Ford will say:
“The Joint Declaration is at best a ‘shared understanding’ between the two Governments as to what should happen. It is a product of a flawed process of negotiation that overly focused on addressing demands of Republicans in order to create the context for movement. This is seen in the differential attention that is given to some issues over others. For example, language rights are overemphasised, while it took a considerable effort on the part of Alliance to get any meaningful references to community relations.
“The Governments do seem determined to plough ahead in implementing the Joint Declaration. In doing so, the Governments need to be very careful not to be seen to be giving any concessions to any party.
“There are many items in the Joint Declaration that make good sense and would improve conditions in Northern Ireland. But on a number of points of detail Alliance has considerable concerns.
“Paragraph 13 is the strongest aspect of the Joint Declaration. The Governments have at last defined what should be meant by a ceasefire. It is a tight definition that covers all forms of paramilitary activity, including actions against ordinary members of the community.
“However, it is regrettable that the Governments have insisted on using the term ‘punishment beatings’ rather than ‘paramilitary attacks’ in an official document. The term ‘punishment’ implies a degree of legitimacy. This is a very dangerous message to send.
“Considerable movement has been made by the Governments on the issue of the OTRs, under pressure from Alliance and some others. They have abandoned their proposals in the Weston Park package for what amounted to a general amnesty. They accepted the need to process suspects within a judicial process, where the guilty are given convictions and placed on licence.
“Alliance however has major concerns that those wishing to avail of the scheme need not appear in court. This would be a final insult to their victims. We will use any influence we have to block this aspect of the proposals.
“Alliance welcomes the proposals for an International Monitoring Body. This arises from an Alliance proposals presented to the two Governments last July, for a paramilitary monitor to shine a spotlight on their illegal activities. While there are a number of details still to be worked out in this area, the Governments should move ahead with legislation.”
The full text of the Alliance Position on the Joint Declaration is available at: