Alliance Leader Naomi Long has said there is a need to re-inject local politics with the sense of possibility and optimism created by the Good Friday Agreement.
Mrs Long was speaking during the party’s 48th annual conference, held today in the Stormont Hotel in East Belfast. She told delegates her party refuse to give into the counsel of despair, instead being inspired by the conditions which led to the 1998 agreement.
“While there is a lack of optimism and trust at the heart of the current malaise, key is a lack of a shared vision for our community. When we voted for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, we had the hope of building not just a stable and peaceful future, but also one in which we were reconciled to our neighbours and integrated as a community.
“The lack of optimism, trust, vision, leadership and forward momentum was what led Alliance to this week publish Next Steps Forward, our route map to restoring devolution. Problem solving is what politics is about and is what Alliance has continued to do throughout this crisis. We will not simply stand on the sidelines, wringing our hands, or worse, add to the problems by pointing the finger.
“I refuse to give in to a counsel of despair. I chose instead to be inspired that what we were capable of once, we may yet be capable of again. There is a need to regain the sense of possibility and optimism back into the process and I remain as convinced as ever positive visions, bold ideas and strong leadership are the only ways to move Northern Ireland forward and realise the full potential of this society.
“We have to choice to make – do we stand still, squander progress or step forward together and build a more just future in which everyone has a stake? Alliance is ready to take those next steps forward, the challenge is now to others to step forward with us.”
Naomi Long MLA’s full speech to Alliance Conference 2018 is available here.