Alliance Party Leader, David Ford, has reacted with scepticism to the call from David Trimble for cross-community government, given his failure to
practice it under the Agreement.
David Ford said:
“There is little point in either the UUP of SDLP attempting to present themselves as parties of the centre ground for a few weeks of an election
campaign. All the evidence is that they have abandoned any claim they might have made to that territory.
“The UUP and SDLP have put forward totally conflicting positions over recent months. The former has become more unionist, the latter more nationalist.
“The underlying assumption behind the Agreement was that the UUP and SDLP would get together to really run things. But the UUP and SDLP were
paralysed by the fear of the extremes, and attempted to pander to them. All they did was make it inevitable that they would be eclipsed by their rivals.
“Although they were given the responsibility, these two parties failed to govern together. It was an open secret that neither partnership of First Minister and Deputy First Minister worked. A poor relationship between David Trimble and Seamus Mallon was followed by a poor relationship
between David Trimble and Mark Durkan.
“Two sets of competing special advisers, rather than a single team, got in each other’s way and spent their time sending competing messages up and
down the corridors of Stormont. The two parties could not agree on the basis for an improvement in community relations policy.
“It is a bit late now for David Trimble to be calling for cross-community government. He was given his chance in 1998, and again in 2001, and he failed to build a genuine partnership.
“There has been genuine partnership over the last four years in a number of Council where Alliance has give leadership, such as Belfast. There was
no cross-community partnership at Stormont.
“The lesson is that Northern Ireland cannot work without constructive reforms to the Agreement, and without the strong presence of the genuine
cross-community party, Alliance.”