Ford praises Alliance Belfast Council group

David Ford has praised Belfast City Council’s Alliance group tonight, saying the party had again proven its commitment to achieving a shared future.

The Alliance Leader welcomed a proposal put forward by his party colleagues at the meeting, calling for the Union Flag to fly on designated days as recommended by the Equality Commission in both 2002 and 2011.

David Ford MLA said: “Alliance was the only party who brought a real compromise to the table over the future of the Union Flag. Designated days has been a long standing Alliance Policy and one which we believe has the best opportunity to enhance community relations.

“Times are changing and Belfast is no longer a Unionist controlled city. It is a shared city and one which has the potential to attract investors and economic interest from around the world. We cannot continue to be drawn into the tribal politics of the past, but must prove our credentials and create a city welcoming to all cultures.

“The DUP and UUP both claim to be committed to a shared future yet have fallen far short on this issue. Instead of working for the interest of all residents of Belfast they have chosen to return to the past and stir up old tensions. Likewise Sinn Fein and the SDLP must recognise Northern Ireland’s place as part of the UK and that to permanently remove the flag is not a viable option for Belfast.

“This issue presented all parties with an opportunity to show their commitment to building a better future for Belfast and to find a lasting solution on how all emblems and memorabilia are displayed. Only Alliance demonstrated its belief in a fairer society, standing firm on a position best placed to create equality for all.

“The Alliance Party is committed to building a shared future free of sectarianism and inequality. We want to see shared housing and shared education and a framework to remove all illegal flags and emblems firmly on the agenda. Alliance will continue to be open and honest about how we believe we can achieve a Northern Ireland open to everyone.

“At a meeting of our Party Council on Saturday, members were universal in their support for our Belfast City Council group, demonstrated when Councillor Maire Hendron received a standing ovation at the event. They have successfully promoted a long standing Alliance position and have done so with integrity and respect despite the many accusations that have been thrown at them.

“Tonight’s result has been a clear victory for the Alliance Party. Through the dedicated work of Alliance Councillors the image of a shared future has prevailed in Belfast.”

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