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  • David Ford
    10 AM Wednesday

    Alliance MLA David Ford has said the needs of victims must be resolved urgently, after meeting representatives on legacy issues.

    The former Justice Minister was speaking after attending a meeting of the Victims and Survivors Forum in East Belfast. Issues raised included dealing with the past and a pension for those injured in the Troubles.

    Mr Ford said it was a useful opportunity.

    "It was valuable to hear first-hand and in person the views and opinions of victims on a number of matters and likewise, it was beneficial to put across the Alliance stance on issues such as the victims' pension. It is part of an ongoing engagement the party has with victims and I hope it is as useful for them.

    "Alliance has always raised the topic of victims and survivors in the numerous talks processes over the years, and also put proposals to the DUP and Sinn Fein as part of our consideration for retaking the Justice Ministry last year. We had hoped it would resolve outstanding issues around the legacy of the past, however, they were rejected by those two parties.

    "Victims are far too important to be used as a political football, which is precisely how they continue to be treated by some. The current status quo is not sustainable - instead, we need to comprehensively deal with the past so victims and their loved ones can have their issues resolved."
  • David Ford
    31 May
    Alliance MLA David Ford has called on Arlene Foster to clarify whether she accepts an endorsement for her party from the UDA-linked UPRG group.

    Mr Ford was speaking after the UPRG magazine The Loyalist said it "would strongly urge a vote for Emma Little-Pengelly" in South Belfast. The former Justice Minister said it was particularly troubling, given this week's killing of a man in a packed shopping centre car park, believed to be part of an ongoing UDA feud.

    "Arlene Foster needs to make clear if her party accepts an endorsement by a group closely connected to the UDA. The electorate, particularly in South Belfast where this endorsement was given, deserve to know.

    "It is bad enough to have paramilitaries backing a political party at any time but it is especially troubling in this case, given it comes in the same week as a murder which is believed to be part of a UDA feud. It is now 2017 - paramilitaries should not even exist, never mind be giving ringing endorsements of political candidates.

    "Questions remain over the Social Investment Fund - many thought it as nothing more than a paramilitary slush fund, with a particular emphasis to the UDA. This endorsement of the DUP by that same group does nothing to dispel those views."

  • David Ford
    17 May

    Alliance MLA David Ford has sent his good wishes to Barra McGrory QC as he announced he will step down as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

    The former Justice Minister said Mr McGrory, who confirmed he will step down later this year, had led the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) "with skill and integrity during a difficult time due to budget cuts".

    "Barra brought his skills as a solicitor and barrister in private practice to his work as DPP, and despite allegations about some of his previous clients, he acted fairly and properly in that role.
    "Recent attacks on the PPS by a number of Tory and unionist representatives show how important it is politicians are kept away from individual justice issues such as prosecutions.

    "The PPS must follow the evidence and take all decisions impartially. The service has resisted all political pressure and that is a tribute to Barra McGrory's leadership."

  • David Ford
    13 April

    Alliance MLA David Ford has said he is 'greatly concerned' over reports serious damage has been caused to a local birds' habitat.

    Police have revealed they have launched an investigation after part of the Hydepark Dam, located outside Mallusk, was destroyed; leaving a number of swan eggs exposed and fears the unhatched birds will have perished.

  • David Ford
    14 March

    David Ford MLA has resubmitted his private member's bill on abortion reform.

    Mr Ford presented his proposal to the Speaker's Office late yesterday (Monday) soon after signing the roll of membership to officially become an MLA again. It had been moved in the previous Assembly mandate but was a casualty of the Executive collapse.

    The proposed legislation seeks to reform the law around termination of pregnancy in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities (FFA). If passed, it would enable women carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality to access a termination legally in Northern Ireland. Mr Ford also previously attempted to change the law while Justice Minister.

    "A number of years ago, I made a promise to Sarah Ewart I would try to change the law to allow women such as her who wished to have a termination in a case of FFA to do so in Northern Ireland," he said.

    "I previously attempted to bring legislation to the Executive to allow just that. However, other parties blocked that move and failed to accept my recommendations. The recent collapse of the Assembly also stopped my private member's bill in its tracks, leaving women in those tragic circumstances with no option but to continue the pregnancy or make the traumatic journey across the Irish Sea to seek a termination.

    "The surveys and statistics all show the desire is there in Northern Ireland to change the law. We need to help these women and we need to help them now."
  • David Ford
    18 February
    Alliance South Antrim candidate David Ford has said the RHI scandal is getting worse, as each day seems to cast new light on the potential for corruption and fraudulent claims.
    Mr Ford was speaking after the BBC reported it had a list of the claimants, which revealed a small number of companies registered as dormant have been claiming tens of thousands of pounds.

    He said there needed to be an urgent investigation.

    "What is potentially fraudulent is some of those claims seem to be for amounts beyond the capacity of the boilers in place. While we are now starting to see just how disastrous this scheme actually is, we could have been in a much better place if DUP Ministers had stepped up and carried out their role in an open, transparent and accountable way.

  • David Ford
    9 February
    Alliance South Antrim candidate David Ford has said unionists have put our current political system at risk by not backing an amendment to the Brexit bill which would have supported the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

    The proposal would have seen the UK Government take onboard the GFA during Brexit negotiations. However, it was defeated by 327 votes to 288, thanks to backing from the DUP and UUP MPs. The Bill will now move to the House of Lords.

  • David Ford
    29 January
    Alliance MLA David Ford has criticised comments on the balance of prosecutions made by the Secretary of State.

    David Ford said: "Politicians have a duty to support the impartial operation of the institutions of the Justice system. The comments from James Brokenshire on prosecutions come perilously close to interfering in the rule of law.

    "The police, whether PSNI, Garda or forces in Great Britain, have the duty to investigate crime and prepare reports for the prosecution services, who have a duty to consider the evidence before them without fear or favour. If evidence exists of serious crimes being committed, then the alleged perpetrators must be brought to court."

    The former Justice Minister added: "It appears the Secretary of State is following his cabinet colleague, the Lord Chancellor, who failed to defend the integrity of High Court judges when they were attached by tabloid papers and called "enemies of the people" for doing their duty and upholding the law.

    "This is depressing when the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland set out the position of the justice system so clearly just a few days ago. I trust the Minister of Justice will now defend the integrity of the PSNI, the PPS and the judiciary, and make clear the Secretary of State is wrong."

  • David Ford
    27 January
    Alliance's David Ford has said victims and survivors deserve "urgent progress" after the Lord Chief Justice said he wanted to see progress on all legacy inquests, adding parties blocking progress should be "ashamed" they had to be called on to show maturity and courage.

    Mr Ford was speaking after Sir Declan Morgan told the Victims and Survivors Forum the lack of political progress in agreeing and funding legacy inquests meant it had been in effect, a wasted year.

    Former Justice Minister Mr Ford backed Sir Declan's call for political parties to show "courage and maturity" to get progress on the matter.

    "During the Stormont House talks, many Alliance proposals on dealing with the past were agreed in order to take the issue forward in a way both sensitive and inclusive of the needs and wishes of victims and survivors. However, thanks to the immaturity and unwillingness of several parties, we are still without a resolution.

    "As Justice Minister, I proposed funding of legacy inquests, a plan never put to the Executive by the First and deputy First Ministers. Alliance also submitted proposals to the DUP and Sinn Fein as part of our consideration for retaking the Justice Ministry last year. Those proposals would have seen major progress on resolving outstanding issues around the legacy of the past. However, they were rejected by those two parties.

    "With the dissolution of the Assembly and subsequent election, plus any potential talks process, it is likely we will see the needs of victims put on hold even longer. Those needs are far too important to be passed around like a political football. It is a matter of shame the Lord Chief Justice has had to make the speech he did today. There is a need to urgently progress a comprehensive deal on the past so victims and their loved ones can have their issues resolved."

  • David Ford
    24 January

    Alliance MLA David Ford has welcomed the Supreme Court ruling Parliament must vote on triggering Article 50 but added he is disappointed the devolved institutions will not be consulted on the Brexit process.

    The ruling means the Prime Minister cannot begin talks with the EU until MPs and peers back that move. However, the regional assemblies, including Northern Ireland, will not get a say on the process.

    "It is welcome the Supreme Court has recognised the sovereignty of Parliament and that the EU referendum was only advisory," said Mr Ford.

    "This means the Government should now produce a much more detailed plan and their Bill may be subject to amendments before it can move through Parliament.

    "However, the decision the three devolved assemblies do not need to be consulted does raise significant issues for the future of devolution across the UK, on a wide range of issues and not just membership of the EU. In the longer term, this is likely to create significant debate in all three.

    "Brexit has such fundamental implications for the wider UK and specifically Northern Ireland, it would have been an affront to democracy if the formal triggering of Article 50 was not subject to detailed scrutiny and accountability by Parliament."