Cllr Michael Long said: “I am very proud to take up this post. The past couple of years have undoubtedly been a very positive time for the party and I aim to maintain this strong momentum as party Chair. Alliance has grown, not only in the Assembly and in local Councils, but also in membership on the ground. We have one of the biggest youth wings out of all the parties in Northern Ireland, and we are recognised as the only alternative to this weak Executive. We have also seen a high profile defection to Alliance recently, and I expect that this trend will continue in future.
“As party Chair I want to put the issue of international development on the local agenda. This is Fairtrade Fortnight and I believe Northern Ireland must take a broader outlook and consider its role in the wider world. Together with members of the local community I have been campaigning for some time to make Dundonald a recognised Fairtrade village and I hope to get a positive result on this in the near future.
“I also want us to maintain a high level of pressure on the Executive to overcome division and build a genuinely shared society. Our campaigning is starting to pay off, as this week we saw positive plans unveiled by Social Development Minister, Margaret Ritchie, to build more integrated housing.
“This initiative will remove the first brick in the Berlin Wall of segregation that currently exists in Northern Ireland, but the Executive must realise that we need 100% commitment to a shared future, not just meaningless soundbites and empty gestures.
“I also want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessor, Yvonne Boyle. Her commitment and vision have been reflected in the party’s resurgence in recent years.
“I am excited about the future and I have ambition, not only for the party, but for Northern Ireland too. Northern Ireland deserves better than a second-rate Executive that lacks the vision and courage to make the right decisions for everyone.”