Peace package must deal with sectarianism: Ford

An Alliance delegation will meet the Prime Minister in Downing Street this afternoon (Dec 1) and call on Mr Blair to ensure that there is a concentrated attack on the costs of sectarianism.

Speaking before travelling to London, the Alliance Leader, David Ford, said:

“It now seems that the two Governments and the two largest parties are close to agreeing on a compromise plan for the end to paramilitarism and the restoration of devolution. Positive suggestions put forward by Alliance at Leeds Castle and subsequently have helped shape this deal.

“At today’s meeting, we will continue to emphasise to the Prime Minster that there must be a complete end to all paramilitary activity in line with Paragraph 13 of the Joint Declaration. The IMC has a significant long-term role to ensure that this happens.

“We will also repeat our concerns that any new Executive will be on a fragile basis and will require a package of additional financial assistance to ensure that pubic support for devolution is not harmed by difficult financial decisions.

“Any such assistance must be directed to encouraging local business development and addressing the historical deficit in investment in our infrastructure.

“There have been suggestions that a package of £1 billion might be made available. However, it should not be forgotten that the costs of maintaining a segregated society in Northern Ireland are close on £1 billion – every single year.

“One of the best uses of any additional Treasury funding would be to make investments that would start to cut this excessive cost of division and free it up for better use.

“Sectarianism has huge costs, both to society and to government finances. It is essential that any new deal really starts to attack the roots of sectarianism.”

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