Mr Lyttle said the legislative programme, which contains commitments to bring a Single Equality Bill, Equal Marriage Bill and an Animal Welfare Bill among others, would help correct the lack of progress in many areas by the previous Executive.
“The Assembly is often criticised for lacking movement on and discussion of real legislation, often being dominated by meaningless private members’ business, and when legislation does come, it is usually in a rush towards the end of a mandate.
“But with this legislative programme, Alliance believes the next Assembly can hit the ground running with proper business that delivers for all the people of Northern Ireland. We are already far behind the rest of the UK in terms of equality and other laws, and are in danger of falling even further behind if we do not see some serious movement soon.
“Bills such as a proposed single equality one would better reflect the diversity of multiple identities within Northern Ireland, while a marriage equality Bill with robust protections for faith groups would move us into the 21st Century, and an animal welfare Bill would help defend some of the most vulnerable creatures in our society.
“Many of these Bills should have passed the Executive many years ago. That’s why Alliance has proposed these legislative priorities, to ensure our society gets to better, sooner.”
Alliance’s legislative priorities –
1. Single Equality Bill
This Bill will harmonise existing equality and anti-discrimination measures and update and strengthen equality provisions. Our Act would also revise Fair Employment monitoring to better reflect the diversity of mixed and multiple identities within Northern Ireland.
2. Marriage (Same-sex couples) Bill
This Bill will extend civil marriage provisions to same sex couples, provided that robust protections are provided through legislation to protect faith groups and religious celebrants who do not wish to marry same-sex couples.
3. Integrated Education Bill
This Bill will provide a greater basis for the further development of integrated education and will implement those parts of our nine-point plan for integrated education.
4. Climate Change Bill
This Bill will develop a climate change framework for Northern Ireland, with a clear ‘road map’ for implementation. This would include binding and stringent carbon emissions targets for the Northern Ireland Executive.
5. Environmental Protection Bill
This Bill will update environmental regulation and enforcement, including establishing an independent Environmental Protection Agency.
6. Animal Welfare Bill
This Bill will include provisions that prohibit wild animals in circuses, the hunting of animals with dogs, the use of electronic dog collars and the use of snares. It will also better regulating the sale of puppies and kittens.
7. Access to Justice Bill
This Bill will deliver reforms flowing from the Access to Justice Review (Pt II) and the judicially-led Review of Civil and Family Justice, as well as new Compensation arrangements.
8. Sentencing Bill
This Bill will implement reforms flowing from the planned review of the penal policy, and the replacement of current custodial orders and community disposals in youth justice cases.
9. Adoption Bill
This Bill will provide a long overdue update of Adoption Law in Northern Ireland by ensuring uniformity across statutory agencies setting clear standards in terms of quality and putting in place eligibility criteria reflecting the norms of modern society.
10. Private Renting Bill
This Bill will improve the regulation of the private rented sector, focusing on increasing security of tenure, improving standards in poorer homes and reducing up-front fees.