David Ford, Leader of Alliance, has launched his party’s election campaign today at the Lagan Lookout on Donegal Quay, Belfast.
Mr Ford introduced the 21 Alliance candidates who will stand on 29 May.
The party is contesting all 18 constituencies, with all its outgoing Assembly group standing again. Eight of the candidates – 40% – are female, the best gender balance of any party.
There will be a preview of the Alliance election broadcast, which seeks to engage viewers and listeners by getting away from the usual formats and making serous points with a sense of humour.
David Ford will say: “First, I welcome you all to the Lagan Lookout. An appropriate location, as I hope that the people of Northern Ireland will consider what vision the different parties are putting forward. Alliance will be restating the vision that we have worked towards for many years – of building a united community.
“This immediate area around the weir and the waterfront has undergone a huge transformation in recent years. It’s an example of what we can do when people work together. What a pity that our political system is still stuck in the trenches.
“To listen to some other parties, you would think that they were part of the centre ground. Yet, throughout the lifetime of the last Assembly, Alliance stood alone on issues like promoting better relations, and dealing with the ills of sectarianism.
“Five years ago, the responsibility for leading the government of Northern Ireland was placed in the hands of the so-called moderate parties, the SDLP and UUP. There was precious little sign that they were doing anything to build that united community.
Nothing on promoting reconciliation or reconciliation.
“The First Minister and Deputy First Minister couldn’t even publish a strategy for community relations – we had to wait for a direct rule Minister to do that.
“That is why we are making a clear statement in this campaign: ‘Tribal Politics Doesn’t Work: Alliance Does.’
“We are launching this campaign while the political process is deadlocked and the future of the Agreement is in question. I think that the Titanic exhibition that surrounds me is a warning to all of us.
“The Titanic was well built in this city. She was launched and underwent successful trials. But a tragedy happened because of the route she was steered when she set out onto the ocean. Despite the claims of the naïve optimists, she was not unsinkable – as the man who designed her knew.
“Alliance is totally committed to the principles of the Agreement. It represented a major movement towards the prospect of a truly peaceful, democratic society. But we have grave concerns about the behaviour of those charged with setting the course of the Agreement over the last five years.
“The 21 Alliance candidates are committed to working for the whole community, to tackling sectarianism in all its ugly forms. I believe that there are very real prospects that we will increase our Assembly seats. We will provide the vision that is lacking in the other parties.”