Alliance Party Leader David Ford has said the Government is now taking the case for tackling segregation seriously, but that actions must now match the rhetoric.
Responding to the Secretary of State’s speech to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in Newry, David Ford stated: “There are real signs that the Government now fully understands the moral and financial obligation for all political leaders here to end the scourge of segregation, and with it the scourge of sectarianism. Now the Government’s actions must match the words.
“Mr Hain talked seriously today of the case for integrated education, but only six weeks ago his colleague the Minister for Education was denying the integrated sector the support it needs in many areas. The moral case for educating and bringing up our children together is unanswerable – now we need the policies to support that case.
“The very fact that there was a walk-out on the issue of water charges also indicates that the Government must now grasp the financial implications of delivering services on a segregated basis. We have to ask ourselves are we really prepared to pay 20% tax hikes, water charges and tuition fees just to pay for leisure facilities and health centres that are duplicated to serve each ‘community’ separately.
“The fact is we cannot afford segregation, with its inevitable sectarian accompaniments, either morally or financially. Our party’s liberal tradition demands precisely the opposite – a society free from restriction and limitation based on religious ‘label’, one that maximizes opportunity for each and every individual. If the Government and our political leaders turn these fine words into action, we will all be the beneficiaries.”