An Alliance Party delegation today with Lord Rooker, the Minister with lead responsibility for community relations to discuss the content of the first triennial action plan for a Shared Future.
“A Shared Future – Policy and Strategic Framework for Good Relation in Northern Ireland” was published by the Government in March 2005. A commitment was given in the House of Commons by the then Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, in February 2005, that the first triennial plan would be published during the autumn of 2005.
The Alliance delegation consisted of: David Ford MLA, Eileen Bell MLA, Naomi Long MLA, and Allan Leonard, Policy Officer.
Speaking before the meeting David Ford stated:
“Alliance welcomed the publication of the Shared Future framework document. Crucially, for the first time, the Government has accepted the Alliance vision of shared future where people can live and learn, work and play together in safety. The notion that Northern Ireland can actually be governed through some form of ‘benign Apartheid’ or ‘separate but equal’ has been clearly dismissed.
“But now the challenge is to ensure that this good start is followed up with radical changes in policies and practices.
“Today, Alliance is presenting to the Minister our initial proposals for consideration. We will be publishing a much more detailed programme at the beginning of September.
“Alliance has proposals in relation to a radical expansion of integrated education, encouraging mixed housing, and defending shared spaces.
“There is very strong evidence that the people of Northern Ireland do want mixed schools, workplaces, leisure facilities and communities. But they are held back by lack of facilities and fears over security.
“A Shared Future is not about social engineering. In fact, Northern Ireland is one of the most socially-engineered divided societies in the world.
“Furthermore, there is a strong economic and financial incentive for change. The costs of managing a segregated society amount to around £1billion year. This is clearly unsustainable. The funds involved would be much better spent on improving the quality of public services for all.”