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  • 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."
  • 18 January

    Alliance MLA David Ford has sent best wishes to the brother and sister injured in a car accident near Randalstown. It is understood the children had just got off a bus from school when they were struck by a car.

    David Ford said: "This accident is very distressing for the family and the many other people affected, including the emergency services and the drivers. I would offer my thoughts and prayers for a speedy and full recovery for the children."

  • David Ford
    17 January

    Alliance MLA David Ford has said he is disappointed his Bill on abortion reform will fall due to the collapse of the Assembly but he has pledged if re-elected he will submit it once again.

    Mr Ford's attempted private member's Bill, which was officially moved earlier this month, is one of the casualties of the end of the Assembly term ahead of an election on March 2. The proposed legislation sought to reform the law around termination of pregnancy in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities. It would have enabled women carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality to access a termination legally in Northern Ireland.

    However, the South Antrim MLA said it was not the end of the matter.

    "This reform is desperately needed for many women across Northern Ireland who wish to access terminations, therefore it is incredibly disappointing the collapse of the Assembly has meant it will proceed no further than the first stage.

    "Should the people of South Antrim re-elect me to the position of their MLA, on my first day back I will go to the Speaker's Office and resubmit my Bill, with a view to progressing it through the next Assembly term.

    "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 dreadful circumstances and we need to help them as quickly as possible."
  • David Ford
    4 January

    Alliance MLA David Ford has said it is no coincidence the Secretary of State has announced a consultation into the transparency of political donors, given recent increased pressure by Alliance on the issue.

    Mr Ford was speaking after James Brokenshire stated he would be writing to local parties to seek their views on ending the current exemption, which sees donors kept secret, unlike across the rest of the UK.

    Legislative change secured by Naomi Long at Westminster means names of single donors of over £7,500 since January 2014 will be published, in line with parties in Britain, as soon as the Secretary of State allows it.

    "This is a welcome move, despite the fact the Secretary of State could simply make the change right now with a sweep of his pen," said Mr Ford.

    "However, I don't believe today's announcement is a coincidence - Alliance has continually been keeping the pressure on the rest of the local parties to follow our example and reveal donors voluntarily in line with the rest of the UK, particularly given allegations around the RHI scheme.

    "Only yesterday, a motion at Belfast City Council brought by my colleague Councillor Kate Nicholl calling for donor transparency was passed, albeit with the DUP and UUP voting against it. It showed once again the time is right to let the public see just who is funding our parties and if they are exerting any influence.

    "If people and parties have got nothing to hide, they will be able to support an immediate change in the law. The time for consultation has long past and the Secretary of State needs to act now."
  • David Ford
    December 2016

    David Ford MLA has called on the Health Minister and Justice Minister to release the report of the working group on fatal foetal abnormality (FFA) after his private member's bill on the matter began its passage in the Assembly.

    Mr Ford made his request in two letters, one to Health Minister Michelle O'Neill and one to Justice Minister Claire Sugden, which were delivered immediately after the Bill was officially moved in the Assembly today (Tuesday). The next stage will come in the new year, but Mr Ford said the Executive should clarify matters by releasing the report now.

    "This working group was established by the Executive earlier this year, in order for the DUP to get through the election without having to make a decision on this vital issue. The report was sent to Ministers in October, but we are still waiting to see it published.

    "As a result of the introduction of my Bill on FFA, I am expecting significant interest from other MLAs and the public on the issues surrounding this matter. Therefore, I believe this would be the right time to release the report of the working group.

    "It would give the Assembly the longest possible period of time to consider the working group's recommendations in relation to the Bill. I call on the Ministers to release this report publicly at the earliest opportunity and help move along the process. This would give people the opportunity to consider the legislative change needed to help women who decide to seek a termination in these traumatic circumstances."
  • David Ford
    December 2016

    David Ford MLA's private member's bill on abortion reform will be officially moved in the Assembly tomorrow (Tuesday), after it was accepted by Stormont's Business Office.

    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. It follows a previous attempt by Mr Ford to change the law while Justice Minister. The next stage will take place in the new year.

    "I am pleased the Speaker's Office has now decided to accept my private member's bill and begin the process which I hope leads to the reform desperately needed for women in Northern Ireland who wish to access terminations," he said.

    "As Justice Minister, I attempted to bring legislation to the Executive to allow that but other parties blocked it and failed to accept my recommendations. That left women in those circumstances with no option but to continue the pregnancy or make the journey to England to seek a termination.

    "My Bill solely deals with abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities. I hope it will be the next step on the road to both confronting and changing the reality of the situation women given such a diagnosis currently face."
  • David Ford
    December 2016

    Alliance MLA David Ford has said that he remains very concerned by the potential damage to the services offered by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) when the Department's new headquarters opens at Ballykelly.

    David Ford was commenting after he questioned DAERA officials at the Assembly committee.