Speaking to Alliance Party members in the new Causeway Coast and Glens council area, David Ford called for immediate steps to implement the Haass proposals on dealing with the past.
David Ford said:”The final text presented by Richard Haass was not the comprehensive agreement that we wanted these talks to achieve. The final text, as a whole, doesn’t meet the ambitions of the Alliance Party, nor the aspirations of the hundreds of individuals and organisations who made submissions to the process.
“But once the talks ended Alliance made its position clear:
- We will energetically promote the proposals on the past, seeking to deliver on the needs of victims and promoting reconciliation;
- we will actively work to improve the proposals on parading, to ensure that they include a clear commitment to values, behaviours and accountability measures that embed the rule of law and reinforce all public space as shared space;
- and we will participate in any Commission established to deal with flags – but we are clear that this proposal isn’t the product of any real negotiations, nor an agreement on flags and symbols. Indeed, we have real concerns that the proposed approach will prove to be counter-productive and unworkable in a climate of sectarianism, contention and electioneering.
“Morally, our first priority must be to meet the needs of victims of our past. On this, we believe that the text sets out a blueprint that can deliver truth and justice for many victims, and reconciliation for our community. We’re pleased to see many of our proposals reflected in this section, and we will seek to drive this agenda forward.
“There was no disagreement around the table that this was the area where greatest progress had been made, and where strongest agreement existed. The First Minister and deputy First Minister should now move to convene a five-party implementation group to oversee the immediate implementation of the proposals on the past. The British and Irish Governments must also commit themselves to supporting this process, by both co-operation with truth recovery and financial support.
“Differences over the regulation of parades or flags should not be allowed to stand in the way. Shame on any party that allows their own electoral interests to stand in the way of addressing the needs of victims, in the way of truth and justice, and in the way of community reconciliation.”