Alliance Enterprise Spokesperson David Alderdice has challenged the Government to explain how it feels reconciliation can be achieved without focusing on the economy.
Responding to the Government’s welcome for the International Fund for Ireland’s change of direction away from economic development, the former Belfast Lord Mayor and current North Down Councillor stated: “The Government is sending out clearly contradictory messages here. One moment it says we in Northern Ireland have to work to develop our economy, the next it is welcoming the removal of funds from economic development. This simply makes no sense.
“For far too long we have treated ‘economic development’ and ‘reconciliation’ as two separate, competing themes. They are not. They are fundamentally linked to each other.
“It is therefore impossible to focus effectively on genuine reconciliation without focusing on economic development. These two simply cannot be divorced.
“The Alliance Party would be very concerned that significant amounts of money may now be spent on ill-defined ‘programmes’ so that the Government can claim it is spending money on ‘reconciliation’, without any real, satisfactory outcomes. All this goes on while, by the Government’s own admission, £1 billion is wasted annually on segregated services that need
not be segregated.
“For too long terms such as ‘reconciliation’ and ‘community relations’ have been abused to mean ‘money for segregation’. This cannot be allowed to continue. If the Government is saying that developing our economy is central to future progress, then it must join those of us who agree and pursue actions that match these words.”