Unionist and Nationalist parties don’t want to resolve divisive issues – Ford

Speaking to the Annual General Meeting of the Alliance party’s ruling council on Saturday in Lurgan, Party Leader David Ford told delegates that Alliance – but only Alliance – was seeking to build a United Community in Northern Ireland and defuse issues that led to divisive arguments.

David Ford said: “Developments since the Stormont House Agreement have shown how thin the level of agreement was. My comment at the time that this was ‘a deal to make a deal’ has been justified. While the Executive may have agreed the names of nine Departments, more difficult issues have not been addressed.

“It is clear that despite the commitment given by all five parties to reform government to make it more efficient, at the first test, to reform teacher training, four of the parties ran away and bowed to sectional interests. It is difficult to see how we can manage the budget for reducing Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland if we cannot agree that issue of just two million pounds.

“The record of some of our Councils is equally poor. It is not just issues like the name of a children’s play park in Newry. We have also seen the decision by the outgoing Craigavon Council to defy equality advice and fly the Union Flag daily.

“That is why I proposed to the other parties that we have a moratorium on any changes to Council flag policies until the Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition Commission, set up under the Stormont House Agreement, is able to make recommendations and hopefully reach a consensus on a single Northern Ireland wide flag policy. Unfortunately, there was no agreement and it is likely that there will be disagreements and divisive votes in many Councils in the coming weeks.

“Alliance representatives, whether in Councils, the Assembly, the Executive or Parliament, will use their influence to end such division. Sadly, we will all too often stand alone.”


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