Political progress is about more than decommissioning: Ford

Speaking to the Annual Meeting of Foyle Alliance Association, the Party Leader, David Ford MLA, will say that the current Review, which meets tomorrow at Stormont, must deal with more than just the issue of Decommissioning. He will emphasise the need for action to improve community relations across a range of areas.

David Ford will say: “At present, there is a considerable emphasis on the issue of Decommissioning, with Unionists demanding that it is the only issue on the agenda. But while it is probably the single most important issue, the area on which there has been least progress to date, decommissioning is not the only issue to be dealt with.

“You will recall that Alliance saved the Agreement over a year ago, when we temporarily redesignated to ensure the election of David Trimble and Mark Durkan. At the time, we said that the system of dividing up MLAs into ‘tribal’ groups was not only illiberal and discriminatory, but it also did not deliver the wishes of over 70 percent of MLAs.”

“I believe that action needs to be taken across a range of issues to improve community relations. We have seen many good examples, but also far too many bad ones.”

“On the positive side, politicians from all parties worked together to get the gas pipeline for Derry – as well as the towns on the route, from, Antrim to Limavady. I am proud that my Alliance colleague, Sean Neeson, led this from the ETI committee in the Assembly.”

“However, we have also witnessed damaging and negative disputes over issues like the future of policing or the name of this city.”

“That is why Alliance published proposals earlier this month on ‘Building a United Community’. We took action where the Executive had been dragging its feet.”

“I welcome the consultation document published by the Government yesterday. Its title – ‘A Shared Future’ – shows that they are beginning to think along the same lines as Alliance has set out over thirty years, although the document is weak and timid in many places.”

“Nearly five years after the Good Friday Agreement, a fundamental question remains for this society. Are we going to attempt merely to manage the divisions in Northern Ireland or are we going to actively seek to build a united community, respecting diversity and treating all citizens equally?”

“Over a third of our fellow citizens do not identify with either unionism or nationalism. Demand for places in integrated schools is at an all-time high. Most people want to see more integration in housing and employment.

“It is time to put all aspects of a divided society behind us once and for all. To insist that we build on the foundations of the Agreement to establish a truly shared future.”


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