Alliance launches first Agreement Review Paper

The Alliance Party has launched its detailed proposals for the forthcoming Comprehensive Review of the Agreement, entitled ‘Agenda for Democracy’.

Launching the document, Alliance Leader, David Ford stated:

“The Agreement has many strengths, in particular the creation of a set of political institutions with cross-community legitimacy within a deeply divided society.

“But over the past six years, a number of flaws and problems with implementation have come into much clearer focus. Most regrettably, the Agreement has played a major role in contributing to an institutionalised sectarianism in Northern Ireland.

“We now have a new opportunity – a second chance – to get things right. This is not about a quick fix just to get devolution up and running again. This time we have to put in place the structures that can carry Northern Ireland forward in the long term.

“We need structures of Government that can continue whatever future election results produce, and which are capable of allowing the Assembly to build stability and prosperity for the whole community. The Alliance proposals are designed to ensure a system that will have the confidence of all the community.

“Alliance is setting the agenda for the Review. We are the first of the main parties to publish our formal proposals for the coming talks.

“For the past six months, an Alliance working group, convened by former Party President, Dr Philip McGarry, has been preparing our position. The proposals were endorsed by Party Council and have been sent to the two Governments, who have responsibility for convening the review.

“This Review is not the negotiation of a new, different Agreement, but rather a necessary exercise in making the Agreement work better.

“The fundamentals of the Agreement are not up for change. These include: human rights, equality of opportunity and equality of citizenship, entrenchment of the Principle of Consent, power-sharing devolution, accountable north-south structures, and commitments to democracy and non-violence.

“Alliance is today making over 30 proposals for positive change to the way the Agreement works. They are designed to deal with past and present problems, and ensure good government in the future.

“Alliance proposes that the Agreement explicitly articulates the vision of a shared and integrated society, where people can live and learn, work and play, together in safety.

“These revised proposals for making the Agreement work better are designed to take Northern Ireland forward over the next 20-25 years. For Alliance, the Agreement is not the ceiling of our ambitions, but rather a foundation on which to build. Alliance does not view the Agreement as the end-point of a process, but as a tool to help us to reinforce peace and stability, to entrench liberal democracy, and to build a united community and a shared, non-sectarian society.

“Today we are launching our Agenda for Democracy, and tomorrow Alliance will be taking our proposals forward when we meet the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, in Dublin.”

Some of the key Alliance recommendations are as follows:

  • Alliance proposes the introduction of an Assembly voting system for cross-community matters based on a weighted majority, free from communal or sectarian designations.
  • Alliance proposes that the Executive should be formed by negotiation among parties endorsed by a weighted majority vote in the Assembly to ensure a cross-community composition.
  • Alliance proposes that the number of Executive Departments be reviewed, in order to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness, and taking into account the current Review of Public Administration.
  • Alliance proposes that the Assembly as a whole, on the basis of a weighted majority vote, be granted the power to negate a Ministerial decision.
  • Alliance proposes that paragraph 13 of the Joint Declaration (2003) should be incorporated into the Pledge of Office.
  • Alliance proposes that the First Minister, Deputy First Minister, Taoiseach and Tanaiste present a joint report in the Assembly and Oireachtas annually, and are subject to questions from legislators.
  • Alliance proposes the creation of a positive duty upon all Government Department and Public Agencies to promote good community relations.
  • Alliance proposes the creation of a victims’ forum.
  • Alliance proposes the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly, through a Department of Justice.

Link to the full document:

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