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Alliance Manifesto Launch

David Ford- Leader of Alliance

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  • David Ford
    last Friday

    Alliance Leader David Ford has welcomed the announcement of the resolution of the Ardoyne parading dispute.



    A deal, subject to a Parades Commission ruling, will allow protesting Orange lodges to complete their 2013 parade next Saturday (October 1) and the subsequent ending of the Twaddell camp.



    "After many months of disagreement, the announcement of a resolution of the dispute between members of the loyal orders and Ardoyne residents is very welcome," said Mr Ford.



    "I congratulate the representatives of the two sides on reaching an agreement and thank the mediators for their good work, despite the disappointments of the past summer. I look forward to seeing the full details of the deal being published and most importantly, put into action."
  • David Ford
    last Thursday

    Alliance Leader David Ford MLA has said victims and their families are being forgotten by other political parties, after families of victims held a protest at Stormont calling for funding for legacy inquests to be released.



    During the protest, letters threatening legal action if funding was not released within a fortnight were handed over to the Northern Ireland Office and the Executive. The Lord Chief Justice has previously requested £10 million funding for a five-year programme to deal with inquests into Troubles killings, a request blocked by First Minister Arlene Foster.



    Mr Ford said the status quo on the past was not sustainable in the long-term.



    "Alliance has previously put proposals on the past, which reflected many of our party policies, to other parties during various negotiations in order to move us all forward in a way that was sensitive and inclusive of the needs of victims.



    "They were agreed at Stormont House, almost two years ago. Yet we are still sitting here without any action being taken. Alliance also put proposals to the DUP and Sinn Fein as part of the negotiations around the Justice Ministry earlier this year. However, they were again rejected by those two parties.



    "Victims are too important to be used as a political football by the DUP, Sinn Fein and the two Governments. Yet they still are being shunted about, without any of their issues being resolved."
  • David Ford
    15 September

    Alliance Leader David Ford has written to other party leaders to urge an independent investigation into allegations of corruption around Nama's local portfolio.



    Mr Ford's letter asks the leaders of the other main parties to convene a meeting to discuss the most appropriate way to look at the allegations, the latest of which have seen a businessman at the centre of the controversy allegedly accept a series of cash payments from a developer.



    "It is clear with each passing day and every new allegation in relation to this matter, the public's trust in the political system takes another blow," said Mr Ford.



    "Only a fully independent investigation can satisfy those public concerns, while being above party politicking, and that is the action I will be advocating with the other party leaders if they wish to accept my offer.



    "With allegations in relation to the Northern Ireland Nama portfolio deal continuing, there is a danger the stink of corruption will remain around politics and pollute the public perception of the Assembly for some time to come if an independent investigation does not take place immediately."
  • David Ford
    14 September

    Alliance MLA David Ford has said the resignation of a paediatric pathologist over interventions by the Attorney General on abortion law demonstrates the need for MLAs to legislate to allow termination in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities (FFA).



    South Antrim MLA Mr Ford was speaking after the resignation of Dr Caroline Gannon, who said the interventions by John Larkin made her position "untenable".



    "As Minister of Justice, I tried to introduce legislation to legalise abortion in the narrow area of FFA but I was blocked in the Executive. Meanwhile, the various drafts of guidelines from the Minister of Health created a chill factor, which meant doctors felt threatened with criminal prosecution if they carried out a termination unless there was irrefutable evidence of a threat to the woman's mental health.



    "The fact Dr Gannon now feels she cannot carry out her duties to her patients is a clear demonstration the law must be changed. I do not wish to see so-called 'abortion on demand', but I do believe the law should allow compassion to women faced with a dreadful diagnosis who feel they cannot carry a foetus to full term.



    "I hope MLAs will now be willing to consider the realities of the situation for a small number of women and allow abortion where two doctors make a clear diagnosis there is no possibility of a viable life."
  • David Ford
    13 September

    Alliance Leader David Ford has welcomed a treaty creating a body designed to end paramilitarism but said much more is needed.



    South Antrim MLA Mr Ford was speaking after Secretary of State James Brokenshire and Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan signed the treaty in Dublin. It will establish the Independent Reporting Commission agreed as part of last year's Fresh Start deal.



    But Mr Ford said more needed done by a range of public bodies to truly remove paramilitarism from our society.



    "While the signing of today's treaty and establishment of the body is a welcome move, we all know what needs to be done to remove the poison of paramilitarism from our streets. As long as the context in which paramilitarism festers still exists, these sorts of groups will continue to hold our community in their evil grip.



    "Alliance proposed the Independent Reporting Commission as part of last year's talks, based on the work of the previous Independent Monitoring Commission, but also covering the relationships between Government bodies and paramilitary groups.



    "As part of Alliance's proposals to the DUP and Sinn Fein during negotiations around forming an Executive earlier this year, we called for a firm commitment to a robust programme of action to tackle paramilitary activity. However, the DUP and Sinn Fein rejected that suggestion.



    "It is clear while the two Governments have recognised this is a serious issue, we are yet to see any measurable targets set by the Executive in relation to ending paramilitarism. The Executive response to the detailed report of the Independent Panel on Paramilitarism was far short of being a genuine action plan. Instead of just talking, strong deeds are needed in order to break down the groups continuing to bring terror to our streets."
  • David Ford
    5 September

    Alliance Leader David Ford has said the current status quo on dealing with the past is not sustainable, after Northern Ireland's most senior judge said urgent progress was needed on the issue.

    Former Justice Minister Mr Ford was speaking after Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said it was disappointing that the Executive had yet to reach an agreement on dealing with the past. He had previously requested £10 million funding for a five-year programme to deal with inquests into Troubles killings, a request blocked by First Minister Arlene Foster.

    Mr Ford said victims and their families were being forgotten about during the process.

    "At Stormont House, proposals on dealing with the past, which reflected many Alliance policies, were agreed in order to take the issue forward in a way that was both sensitive and inclusive of the needs and wishes of victims. However, almost two years later, we are still without a resolution on the matter.

    "Those who backed last year's so-called Fresh Start deal said that although it did not deal with the past, those issues could be picked up and agreed in the near future. This has proven to be incorrect. My proposals to fund legacy inquests were never put to the Executive by the First and deputy First Ministers.

    "Alliance put proposals to the DUP and Sinn Fein as part of our consideration for retaking the Justice Ministry, to resolve outstanding issues around the legacy of the past. However, they were rejected by those two parties.

    "Today's comments by the Lord Chief Justice, though measured in tone, reveal how disappointed he is at the failure of the current Executive to make progress in the last three months. The good work of the judiciary has been let down by political failure.

    "Victims are far too important to be used as a political football by the DUP, Sinn Fein and the two Governments, which is precisely how they continue to be treated by those groups throughout this process. The current status quo is not sustainable - instead, we need to comprehensively deal with the past so victims and their families can have their issues resolved."

  • David Ford
    1 September

    Alliance Release: Ford welcomes new chair of Alliance Youth

    Alliance Party leader David Ford MLA has welcomed the election of Néidín Hendron as chair of Alliance Youth.

    Mr Ford was speaking after Ms Hendron was elected by fellow Alliance Youth members at the organisation's AGM held on 31 August. She will be in the role for the next year.

  • David Ford
    17 August

    Alliance South Antrim MLA David Ford has said he hopes a new investment in a local dual carriageway will lead to increased road safety throughout the constituency.


    Mr Ford was speaking as Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard announced £160 million is to be invested in the A6 Randalstown to Castledawson Dualling Scheme. Work will begin in October, and will see 7.3 kilometres developed between Randalstown and Toome, and 7.4 kilometres between Toome and Castledawson.


    "This investment is long overdue and will improve the links across South Antrim," said Mr Ford.


    "I hope it will increase road safety throughout the constituency and beyond. Road accidents ruin lives and wreck families, and we need to tackle this devastating issue.


    "In addition, it is also important the Minister has a costed strategic plan to maintain our roads, particularly in rural areas. This would stop the need for costly repairs down the line, meaning money could be spent on further improvement projects for local people instead."
  • David Ford
    20 July

    Alliance Leader David Ford has said an Executive response to an independent report on paramilitarism is "utterly weak" after it failed to state a number of expected timescales and objectives.



    The 'Fresh Start Panel report on the Disbandment of Paramilitary Groups,' by an independent three-person panel, was given to Ministers on time at the end of May, with the Executive due to make public its response by the end of June. However, the reaction was only published yesterday.



    Mr Ford said the poor Executive response was "not what was needed to combat paramilitarism".



    "The fact the Executive took so long after receiving the report to make public its response did not bode well and unfortunately, that has proven to be the case. Throughout the Executive response, there appears to be a lot of non-specific language, with no timescales, and little indication of funding to be provided. Without any measurable objectives, it would be simple for the Executive to fudge its actions over this matter.



    "The response also commits many of the recommendations to existing reviews and processes, rather than demonstrating innovative thinking, which is what any action plan seeking to tackle paramilitarism needs to do.



    "Had I still been Minister of Justice, I would have expected the Executive response to contain clear targets, identifying which Department had responsibility, timescales for implementation, and funding to be provided. Instead, we have a series of vague generalisations, some merely accepting the panel's report without anything specific.



    "The so-called Fresh Start Agreement states the Executive shall make efforts to reduce community division, and the causes of sectarianism and racism here. However, this response fails to mention the words sectarianism, racism or integration.



    "That is just one example but the response contains many more glaring omissions, with some vital areas only mentioned in passing. This poor response was not what was needed - we instead need a clearer document with specific timescales, measurable outcomes and strong commitments if we are to remove the stain of paramilitarism from our society."

  • David Ford
    19 July

    Alliance Agriculture spokesperson David Ford MLA has said the DUP are showing "breath-taking hypocrisy" after the Agriculture Minister travelled to Brussels seeking aid for local farmers.



    Michelle McIlveen of the DUP, whose party campaigned for Brexit, attended the European Agriculture Council to meet with the European Agriculture Commissioner among others to discuss details of support payments to farmers.



    South Antrim MLA Mr Ford said the Minister's actions merely highlighted the DUP's hypocrisy around the EU referendum.



    "As is a matter of public record, the Minister and her party campaigned for a Leave vote in the recent referendum, despite the benefits farmers in Northern Ireland have had within the EU.



    "Alliance laid out before the referendum how Brexit was the biggest threat facing the farming industry here, saying it would be a disaster. The former Prime Minister sought to reduce agricultural support in his negotiations before the referendum, so many livelihoods are already at risk.



    "It is nice of the Minister to state the agri-food sector is the backbone of the local economy, however, it might be too late for many farmers, who will look at this breath-taking hypocrisy by the DUP and rightly ask where the support from that party was during the referendum campaign."