Ford tells Blair: ‘Shared Future’ central to successful institutions

With the Prime Minister and Taoiseach due to launch their latest proposals for Northern Ireland [on Thursday 6th], Alliance Leader David Ford MLA is leading a party delegation to London to say that institutions, like government policy, must be based on integration not segregation.

David Ford will say: “We are putting a three-point plan to the Prime Minister.

“The most important issue for Northern Ireland is not whether or not Sinn Féin can form a coalition with the DUP. The really crucial issue is whether we can work together to build a shared future for all our people. We must move beyond short-termism.

“There is growing recognition that we cannot continue to segregate our people artificially. We cannot afford the financial costs and we cannot afford the social costs. For example, an opinion poll at the weekend showed a huge majority support integrated education.

“Ulster Unionist and SDLP Ministers failed to make progress on a shared future based on integrated services for an integrated society: they simply couldn’t agree. There is little reason to believe that DUP and Sinn Féin Ministers would do any better.

“Under direct rule there has been some movement, but progress has been slow recently. I will tell Mr Blair that his Government must make the Shared Future policy its top priority.

“Our second key point is that the British and Irish Governments must remain fully engaged in the political process. There must be no question of calling the Assembly and then ducking their responsibilities.

“The Agreement makes clear that the two Governments have continuing duties. There is no chance that local politicians will reach a new deal without the full support of London and Dublin.

“Thirdly, the Government has failed to deal with a number of outstanding issues. There is a real danger that they are still looking for a quick fix, rather than a genuine comprehensive agreement which would ensure that when the Assembly is restored it is stable and secure.

“We are not prepared to see elected representatives continue to shirk the responsibility of governing the people who elected them. But the biggest tragedy of all would be for the Assembly to be restored and then collapse after a few months because the necessary work had not been done to remedy the problems.”


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