Speaking at UCD Literary and Historical Society tonight [Wednesday 12th], Alliance Leader David Ford MLA called on both Irish and British governments to put much more emphasis on building a shared future.
David Ford stated: “Northern Ireland is still suffering seriously from community divisions, even though overt violence from Republicans seems to be at an end.
“The UK Government has published its Shared Future framework document and is working on an action plan. The Government has accepted the Alliance vision of shared future where people can live and learn, work and play together in safety. The notion that Northern Ireland can actually be governed through some form of ‘benign Apartheid’ or ‘separate but equal’ has been clearly dismissed.
“But now the challenge is to ensure that this good start is followed up with radical changes in policies and practices. This must be the case with every Department: it is not just a case of a small unit promoting community relations on the periphery.
“There is very strong evidence that the people of Northern Ireland do want mixed schools, workplaces, leisure facilities and communities. But they are held back by lack of facilities and fears over security.
“A Shared Future is not about social engineering. In fact, Northern Ireland is one of the most socially-engineered divided societies in the world. Instead of the negative social engineering our people suffer from, we want to open up society.
“It costs around £1 billion a year to manage separation. This ought to be used on top quality of public services for all.
“While much of the responsibility lies with the UK Government, the Irish government also has duties: the emphasis on cross-border activities should be much more firmly on actions to improve relations within and between the two jurisdictions, rather than mere symbolism.
“We in Alliance, having always argued for sharing and integration, have won the argument. Now we must see the outcome in practice.”
NOTE TO EDITORS:
The Alliance Leadership will meet the Taoiseach to discuss ‘on-the-runs’ legislation tomorrow [Thursday 13th].