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Alliance Manifesto Launch

David Ford- Leader of Alliance


  • David Ford
    1 PM Tuesday

    Alliance MLA David Ford has asked the Executive when it will create a better action plan on paramilitarism, after it was revealed the UK Government had withheld funding for it due to its lack of detail.

    The revelation came as part of the unveiling of the October Monitoring Round by the Finance Minister in today's Assembly. In a section entitled 'Funding to Address Paramilitary Activity,' it states 'the Executive's Budget 2016-17 identified £10 million to tackle paramilitary activity. Of this, the Executive contributed £5 million £5 million, with £5 million to be accessed from the UK Government…the Secretary of State has advised the UK Government funding will not be released until the Executive agrees a more detailed action plan'.

    Former Justice Minister Mr Ford said it was proof the Executive's action plan was "utterly weak".

    "The Executive response to the independent report on paramilitarism was first released long after its deadline. When it was finally made public, it was full of non-specific language, no timescales, no clear targets and little detail about funding. It was an utterly weak document.

    "It is clear the UK Government feels exactly the same, which is why it has withheld its part of the funding. I have therefore submitted urgent questions to the Executive asking when they were first advised they would not be receiving the UK Government funding and when do they expect to agree a more detailed plan to fulfil the Treasury's expectations.

    "If we are to truly remove the poison of paramilitarism from our society, we need a robust plan to tackle it and subsequent actions from all parties against those still exerting criminal influence over our community."
  • David Ford
    2 PM Friday

    Alliance MLA David Ford has welcomed proposals from the Department for Infrastructure to improve a number of junctions on the A26 between Antrim and Ballymena.

    The news came after Mr Ford questioned the Minister Chris Hazzard in the Assembly. Mr Ford highlighted concerns about road safety in Tannaghmore and Creavery, after the Minister told Robin Swann MLA about proposals for Woodgreen and Cromkill.

  • David Ford
    10 AM Friday

    South Antrim MLA David Ford has submitted a private member's bill seeking to reform the law around the termination of pregnancy in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities (FFA).

    Mr Ford tabled his Bill with the Assembly Speaker's Office today. If passed, it would enable women carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality to access a termination legally in Northern Ireland. It follows a previous attempt by Mr Ford to change the law while Justice Minister.

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

    "In my previous role as Justice Minister, I attempted to bring legislation to the Executive to allow just that. However, other parties blocked that move and failed to accept my recommendations, which left women in those circumstances with no option but to continue the pregnancy or make the traumatic journey across the Irish Sea to seek a termination.

    "The working group on abortion which was established before May's election has sent its report to the Health and Justice Ministers. While that is welcome, any guidelines coming from it will not change the law to achieve the reform needed to help women who are given the dreadful diagnosis that a longed-for child has no prospect of life. This is not about disability, it is solely concerned with situations where a foetus cannot survive.

    "A wide-ranging consultation has already been carried out on this issue by the Department of Justice. We know the desire is there in Northern Ireland for change to the law. We need to help the women who wish to seek a termination in these circumstances and we need to help them now."
  • David Ford
    5 October

    David Ford is to step down as Alliance Leader, effective from noon tomorrow (October 6).

    Mr Ford, who will continue serving as South Antrim MLA, will resign on the 15th anniversary of his taking the leadership of the party. His successor will be chosen by party members at a special Alliance Party Council on 26 October.

  • David Ford
    23 September

    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
    22 September

    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."