Alliance Leader David Ford has described today’s meeting between Northern Ireland Office Minister Lord Rooker and MLAs as a window dressing exercise designed to avoid true consultation between Government and elected representatives.
Speaking as his party campaigned for government savings by ending segregation and mainstreaming integrated public services, Mr Ford said:
“Today’s meeting was an opportunity for the Minister to talk at us rather than talk with us. As such, it was a cynical window dressing exercise.
“The simple fact is that if the Government took its obligations under ‘Shared Future’ plans seriously, these rates bill hikes and extra water charges would not be necessary. That is why we decided to take our campaign directly to the public today.
“But let us not forget that other parties have their responsibilities here too. The governing parties during devolution had their opportunity to progress ‘Shared Future’ policies to avoid having to pay extra for segregated services, but they left them sitting on the shelf for a year.
“We are now paying, literally, for the failings of the governing parties during devolution and for the current Government’s preference for carve-up over integration. We want the Government to announce exactly what it plans to do under its ‘Shared Future’ commitments, as some months ago we were promised movement in the autumn. As we approach the winter, no amount of window dressing gets us away from that.
“Segregation is costing us morally, politically and financially, and only the Alliance Party has serious, responsible answers to this challenge.”