What does Alliance means by a shared future?
A society without intimidation, discrimination and fear, where everyone is safe, can play their part and is treated fairly and with respect.
In short, a society for everyone.
What about flags on lampposts on my street? What does this mean for them?
The use of flags on lampposts and other street furniture is not a celebration of culture, it does not seek to bring people together, instead it defines territory and intimidates.
We believe the public sector need to deal more adequately with this and consideration should be given to regulating the display of national flags on public property. Not stopping it completely but doing it with agreement, for time-bound periods.
This regulation only stands for national flags. The law is clear; the display of paramilitary flags is illegal. Whilst we can see benefits to dialogue as a method for removing them, should this approach fail there must be swift follow up enforcement action. Nor should society seek to celebrate this culture of violence.
I live in Housing Executive/Association house are you really saying I can’t fly a flag from it?
People can display any legal symbol from their own home, irrespective of whether it is owned by them or publically or privately rented.
How does a bonfire take place in a shared space? Can you really have a bonfire for everyone?
Shared space doesn’t mean neutral space; it’s not bland where nothing happens. Rather we use it to celebrate, in an inclusive way, not to intimidate and keep people away.
Recently some District Councils have tried to ensure that bonfires are more inclusive occasions by addressing sectarian and paramilitary displays, environmental concerns and safety issues. We’d like this work reviewed to see where we can take this further.
What about parades, they can’t really be for everyone can they?
It is important to note that most parades in Northern Ireland are peaceful and pass off without problem or controversy.
Across the world parades and demonstrations are regulated, we should be no different here.
It is essential that we reach agreement on how to regulate disputed parades; this must be done with all parties and civic society. Whilst this work is on-going everyone, political parties and community leaders, should support and respect the agencies already charged with regulating parades and the decisions that they take.
Again this isn’t about creating bland, neutral space where nothing happens in case it is offensive, it’s about celebrating culture in an inclusive fashion.
I live near an interface structure – what about it?
Interface structures were never intended to be permanent; it is important we remember this and continue to see them as temporary.
However, community confidence is central to their removal. We want the Executive to work with everyone to build the conditions under which they can come.
We’d like to see a 20% reduction in the number of interface structures in the next 10 years, and 30% within 15. To do this we want the Executive to tackle threat, fear and the perception of both of these, regenerate interface areas, use a mechanism to assess the risk to people in interface areas., with strategies to address these risks in a swift and effective manner, each of these steps would help to build community confidence to create the environment in which structures can be removed.
Dealing with the past is really contentious, how do we do it?
Dealing with the past is difficult but this must be done for reconciliation and to build a shared future.
Firstly all Parties must agree that dealing with the past is necessary if we are to build a shared future.
The Executive should engage with the British and Irish governments to agree terms for a cross-party talks process which are aimed at reaching agreement on arrangements for dealing with the past which will address victims’ needs and be capable of delivering the change that they desired.
Does it really cost £1billion to fund a divided society? How do you get to that figure?
Short answer? Yes.
There are many ways a divided society costs us, perhaps best divided into 4 distinct categories:
- Direct costs through policing riots, disturbances and parades and the costs of repairing the damage afterwards – a key outcome of this strategy is change the dynamic of society and therefore reduce these costs.
- Indirect costs come from providing duplicate goods and services for separate sections of the community, we do this for big things like prisons, schools and leisure centres and even things like play parks and bus stops. The estimated burden of segregated education alone is up to £300m.
- Hidden costs amount through housing and planning. Planning based on segregated communities means greater transport costs, large areas sometimes also can’t be used for housing due to the perception of territoriality.
- Opportunity costs arise from our weakened economy, division makes it harder for Northern Ireland to attract investment and tourists.
It is not just Alliance who put the price of division at £1billion, a report by Deloitte from 2007 estimated it could be up to £1.5billion.
You left talks previously, now you are calling for more, why?
The previous talks were behind closed doors and were not making progress towards a document which would be robust enough to deal with the challenges that we will face in moving towards a shared future. Completing a tick box exercise and merely releasing a document was not good enough for us, what is needed is a strategy, grounded in reality clearly mapping the way forward, that is what Alliance have produced.
With this document we have laid our cards firmly on the table, we have clearly laid out the steps the Alliance Party believe need to be taken in order to build a truly shared society and future for everyone. It is now up to other parties to step up to the mark, tell us what they will agree with, where they can’t agree with and why.
You say you are “For Everyone”, yet I don’t see the decisions you take as being for me, what do you say to that?
The Alliance Party always has, and will continue to, base our decisions on what we genuinely believe to be the best outcome for everyone. Sometimes this may mean compromises which individuals may disagree with but these decisions are made after careful consideration of all the available information and options and what we genuinely believe is the best option to create a truly shared future, for everyone.
So you have released a document and OFMDFM’s has been leaked, how do the two stack up?
We believe our document is a clearly laid out, thoroughly thought through strategy on how we go about building a shared future, for everyone.
What’s more we are united behind it, the OFMDFM document hasn’t been agreed, they can’t agree on the tough issues which we have addressed. It is time now for the other Parties to step up and tell us what they can agree with and what action they are willing to take to address division.
We’ve also balanced the need for action with the need to build confidence and have firm strategies in place, with thoughts and figures that have been carefully considered