Speaking as the Party launched ‘For Everyone, The Alliance Party Blueprint For An Executive Strategy To Build A Shared and Better Future’, Alliance Leader David Ford called for all Party Leaders to commit immediately to an open and inclusive process to deliver an effective strategy.
David Ford said: “Building a shared future in Northern Ireland is the biggest challenge facing our political institutions and wider civic society. This challenge has been clear for many years, but has now been brought into even sharper focus by recent events on our streets.
“Continued divisions in our society impact upon people in many ways, including how we live, how we learn, how we work and how we play. These divisions bring significant human, social, economic and financial costs.
“By contrast, the creation of a shared future would provide better opportunities for all and significantly assist the development of our economy.
“For the past decades, all of the main initiatives to improve community relations have occurred under Direct Rule. But if we are to fundamentally transform this society, then a deep and meaningful commitment to a shared future must be embedded within the Assembly and the Executive. Such considerations should be right at the heart of everything that government does.
“Yet six years on from the restoration of devolution, there is still no comprehensive policy in place.
“Alliance is now publishing our own proposals for how an Executive Strategy should look. This sets the benchmark on what should be the ambitions for transforming this society over the coming decade.
“Alliance withdrew from the Working Group on Cohesion, Sharing and Integration as we did not believe that the process was either effective or inclusive. It was not reflecting the many worthy contributions that were made to the CSI consultation. Moreover, the process was heading towards a lowest common denominator, with many critical issues either being ignored or downplayed.
“It remains open to the other parties on the CSI Working Group to publish a document. Alliance is not blocking this from occurring. We are willing to engage with the other parties on our proposals. Ultimately, agreement is now best found through open and inclusive discussions within a shared future forum, including both the main political parties and representatives from civil society.
“Alliance remains willing to discuss the most immediate shared future challenges facing us, such as flags and parades. But we are also clear that such matters are often only the symptoms of much deeper divisions within this society.
“We must therefore move beyond the containment of problems to really building a shared future through a fresh start in critical areas such as education and housing, and understanding the potential step change in our public finances and economic prosperity.”