The Alliance Party has begun discussions with other Assembly parties today, seeking out a way forward on restoring the devolved institutions.
Speaking after an Alliance delegation met Sinn Féin and after he led an Alliance delegation to meet the Ulster Unionists, David Ford stated: “We are making it clear to other parties that in our view reform is the only valid pro-Agreement position, but that the broad principles of the Agreement remain in place. One of these is the assurance of full devolution, with an Executive — that is what the people voted for and that is what they must get.”
The failure of the Governments to engage meaningfully with the Assembly parties has held us back, but we in the Alliance Party do not intent to sit around waiting. That is why we held talks with two other parties today.
With the Ulster Unionists in particular, we accept that there is a case to be made for some sort of gradual restoration of the institutions of government. However, I think they share with us a real concern that others may be willing to stop some way short of full devolution including local, accountable ministers. Any steps we take must be steps on the way to full-scale devolution.
We know also that the local devolved institutions are not the only issue at stake. We are seeking a genuine comprehensive agreement, including improving the operation of cross-border bodies, a better economic deal for Northern Ireland, and raising up the importance of environmental issues. Only on such a basis can we achieve a settlement that does not go back to the old ‘revolving-door’ administrations.