Naomi Long MLA said: “During Question Time on 29th September 2008, in response to a question from my colleague, Ms Anna Lo MLA, the deputy First Minister assured the Assembly that the draft Strategy for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration would be brought to the OFMdFM Committee before the Hallowe’en Recess. This commitment was reiterated to the Assembly by Junior Minister Kelly on 6th October 2008 during a debate when Members expressed their concern about the repeated delays to the publication of the draft CSI document.
“Despite these assurances, the draft CSI was not sent to the Committee prior to Recess. We have been told repeatedly that this strategy is at an advanced stage of development, that its arrival with the Committee is imminent and on every occasion deadlines pass and the document is nowhere to be seen.
“There are those who understandably feel that the CSI strategy is well named, as it may take a Crime Scene Investigator to find out what has happened to it.
“We have seen over recent weeks and months that community tensions remain a major issue and continue to be exploited by those who seek to destabilise the community. The Executive itself has been paralysed since June by the complete inability of the DUP and Sinn Fein to work through their own differences in an atmosphere of cooperation and respect. Yet, despite the serious and far-reaching consequences of division in society, there appears to be no urgency attached to addressing it by OFMdFM.
“There is much valuable work going on with local communities and at local government level, but we need a policy framework in place which will not only help to coordinate, support and strengthen such efforts, but will also commit central Government to playing its full role in actively tackling division and segregation. OFMdFM needs to end this interminable delay and move this strategy forward as a matter of priority.”