Keep Eye on the Prize Urges Alliance

Alliance Party General Secretary, Stephen Farry, has urged all parties to keep their focus on the prize of a reformed Agreement, including the DUP, that could provide some basic stability for society to allow other problems to be finally addressed.

Dr Farry stated: “We now have the prospect over the next few weeks of realising a major prize, that of getting all major parties to buy into, or at least accept, a reformed Good Friday Agreement.

“It is important to recognise that the fundamental principles of the Agreement can be respected through a number of modifications to the structures. This is something now recognised by both Paul Murphy and Demot Ahern.

“The particular institutional design reached early one Good Friday morning was not inspired through some divine wisdom. The history of the past six years have shown that the current structures are flawed, and don’t actually work.

“The forces of conservatism, that are currently resisting necessary reforms to the Agreement, do not seem able to differentiate fundamental principles from particular structures.

“The DUP are already accepting the fundamental principles of the Agreement. This carries major significance which seems to be lost on many.

“Alliance has fundamentally different values and policies and a vision for society from the DUP. But we can recognise the reality that the DUP is now the largest party in society, and integral to efforts to restore the Assembly. For the sake of peace and stability, it is important to try to bring the DUP into the system.

“It is natural that people will be sceptical about the DUP. There are plenty of reasons to be so. But the process of building peace and stability inevitably involves taking some risks. There are plenty of examples of other risks being taken in the process to date, with the risk-takers usually vindicated.

“But making some reforms to the particular structures is not simply about the practical politics of addressing their agenda, but actually making them work and work better.

“Getting the institutions up and running will be far from a panacea. But getting all the parties to at least accept a common set of institutions will at least provide some very basic stability, and allow the parties to begin to focus their attention on the real issues afflicting Northern Ireland, with our community relations problems topping the agenda.”

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