Alliance Party Leader, David Ford, has welcomed the publication of ‘A SHARED FUTURE’ THE FRAMEWORK FOR GOOD RELATIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND, and stressed that it holds the key to saving the £1 billion per year that is wasted on segregation.
David Ford said:
“Alliance has been pushing for a radical overhaul of community relations policies for a number of years. It is ironic that it has been left to the NIO Ministers to approve this new framework, rather than locally elected politicians.
“The publication of this document now marks a fundamental shift in Government policy. There is now an acceptance that the only way forward in Northern Ireland is through the development of a shared society, where people can live and learn, work and play together in safety.
“The idea that divisions can in some be managed, or that services can be provided on the basis of separate but equal has been dismissed.
“The document sets out important policy objectives in relation to integrated education, mixed housing, defending and expanding shared spaces, including dealing with flags and emblems.
“Within the framework document, there is an appreciation of the fundamental social, economic and financial costs arising from a divided society. Alliance believes that the latter amounts to £1billion to the Northern Ireland taxpayer every year.
“There is a crucial recognition of the link between a shared future and dealing with threats to it from a range of paramilitary and criminal activity. The document importantly recognises that there are fundamental norms of behaviour that must be upheld within any peaceful and stable society.
“The major challenge for Government is to develop and implement the detailed policies that are capable of turning this vision into reality. This new thinking must be mainstreamed throughout Government.
“However, the document is light in detailed policy responses in some areas.
“But as a result of representations from Alliance and some others, the first triennial action plan will be brought forward to this autumn. It will be in this document that the real test of new commitments for every Department will lie.
“It is a pity that the Government chose to issue this document through an answer to a written question rather than a more formal press launch. Community relations matters are a core aspect to the task of building peace and stability in this society, and must not be relegated to Cinderella status.”