Alliance Party Leader, David Ford, has said that he is encouraged by the Secretary of State’s keynote speech, in particular his commitment to a shared future, but stressed that the real challenge lies in putting in place new policies and ensuring that they are delivered upon.
David Ford said:
“I am mainly encouraged by the comments made by the Secretary of State today. A number of his remarks clearly set the scene for more detailed follow-up during the course of the autumn. Therefore the real challenge for Government lies in ensuring that they put in place the specific policies and ensuring delivery of the new commitments.
“I particularly welcome Peter Hain’s strong rhetorical commitment to building a shared future, and his acknowledgement of the huge financial resources that are eaten up each year in managing a divided society, especially through duplicating services and facilities. This is a theme that Alliance has been pushing. We estimate that this cost is approximately £1 billion per annum, money that could be better invested in providing better services for all, and avoiding punitive water charges.
“Building a shared future is integral to dealing with violence on the streets. When people are rigidly divided into separate communities, and taught to think of themselves in terms of ‘them’ versus ‘us’, the potential for battles for control over territory and resources to spill over into violence persists. It is time to build a united community, working for the common good.
“The Government also need to be clear that continued Loyalist paramilitary activity will be met not only with a resolute policing response, but also a firm political response.
“The Government must ensure that any new resources going to unionist areas are allocated on the basis of an objective assessment of need, rather than simply as a response to violence in some areas. A fire-fighting approach would simply encourage copycat violence from those areas that were much more peaceful over the past ten days.”