Alliance Party Leader, David Ford, has warned voters not to trust the Ulster Unionists with the future of community relations in Northern Ireland, given their past actions and current proposals.
David Ford stated: “The most important job for the next Assembly must be to begin to tackle the continued deep divisions within this society. In the last Assembly, there was little action, and indeed David Trimble stalled and stalled over an Executive strategy.
“Only after suspension was the report ‘A Shared Future’ published by a direct rule Minister. This was after I had been told by the Deputy First Minster that publication was ‘imminent’ on two different occasions, five months apart.
“The UUP seem to think that sectarianism is only really a problem in working-class areas, and in particular around interfaces, rather than something that is endemic throughout society. The actions and statements of some of their public representatives would seem to undermine their own reasoning.
“It is clear the Ulster Unionists have not accepted a vision of a shared and integrated society. Rather they seem content to manage divisions in some form of ‘benign’ Apartheid. This is only a recipe for long-term instability.
“Sectarianism and segregation are regional problems requiring a regional solution. Yet the UUP proposes to wind-up the Community Relations Council and to replace it with a board of politicians. They want to give most responsibility to District Councils that do not have the capacity to provide an effective and consistent response.
“Only a strong voice for Alliance in the new Assembly will ensure that community relations issues are kept to the fore. Only Alliance will ensure that the vision of a shared Northern Ireland where we can live and learn, work and play together in safety, is not betrayed.”