An Alliance delegation today met the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Dr John Reid in Washington DC. The proposed amnesty for ‘On the Runs’ and David Trimble’s suggestion for a border poll were among the items discussed.
Speaking after the meeting, David Ford stated:
“A border poll is the most polarising, divisive and destabilising issue that could be put to the people of Northern Ireland.”
“The ethos of the Agreement is a win-win for all sides of the community. A border poll would be a lose-lose. No one expects any other result than the status quo at this time. But the result would simultaneously increase the paranoia of Unionists and disillusionment among Nationalists.”
“The timing of any referendum to coincide with the Assembly elections would be particularly damaging. All other discussion of the issues for which the Assembly actually has responsibility would be crowded out. Attempts to forge greater cross-community, consensual politics would be replaced by the politics of ‘winner takes all’.”
“Alliance believes that the Secretary of State should only move to call a poll if there are clear suggestions that a change in Northern Ireland’s constitutional status is likely. That evidence does not currently exist.”
“On the Amnesty, Alliance told the Government that we realised that some action on the ‘On the Runs’ was inevitable. However, we expressed our opposition to any general amnesty, and argued that any detailed proposals had to be consistent with the letter and spirit of the Agreement.”
The delegation consisted of: Party Leader, David Ford, Deputy Leader, Eileen
Bell, and General Secretary, Stephen Farry.