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  • David Ford
    November 2016

    Alliance MLA David Ford has said the Executive is failing in its duty to develop and implement a strategy to end paramilitary activity.



    Mr Ford was speaking after questioning Secretary of State James Brokenshire at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Cardiff today (Monday) on the funding for the Executive's anti-paramilitarism action plan, which Mr Brokenshire confirmed the Executive had not applied for this year.



    "While the Secretary of State claimed the Executive has taken important actions, he didn't explain what they were," said Mr Ford.



    "What is clear, is Ministers have not agreed the detailed action plan they were supposed to develop by the end of June. The three-person panel delivered their report on time by the end of May. Six months later, the Executive has failed to deliver the follow-up the DUP and Sinn Fein committed to prepare within a month in their so-called Fresh Start agreement a year ago.



    "At a time when we face a threat from both republican and loyalist terrorism, there seems to have been a lack of concern on behalf of Ministers to build on the panel report and take the lead in tackling those who are trying to drag us back.



    "No amount of fine words by the Secretary of State can obscure the continuing failure of the Executive. It is long past time all Ministers lived up to their responsibilities."

  • David Ford
    November 2016
    Alliance South Antrim MLA David Ford has highlighted the potential financial loss to Northern Ireland's agriculture sector following Brexit.
    Mr Ford was speaking in support of an Assembly debate, which called on the Agriculture Minister to develop a strategy to support the agriculture and agri-food sectors following Brexit.
  • David Ford
    November 2016

    David Ford has called the decision by United to cancel the Belfast to Newark flight as regrettable. The route, being the only link between Northern Ireland and North America, will be cancelled from January after the airline blamed poor financial performance.

    Mr Ford said 'I think this decision is regrettable and trust it will come as a blow to the team at Belfast International Airport who have been working hard to attract new routes, especially to North America, given the existing and ever increasing business opportunities in that part of the world. This route provided a considerable level of business for the Airport and it appeared more likely that routes would increase over time, which makes this news especially concerning.'

  • David Ford
    October 2016

    David Ford MLA has said he is disappointed a legal challenge against Brexit has been rejected by the High Court but added he will continue to explore every available avenue to fight the matter.


    The Alliance MLA was speaking after a judge ruled against two separate proceedings - one from a cross-party of MLAs and another by victims' campaigner Raymond McCord.



    Mr Ford said despite the judgement, valid concerns around the impact of a Brexit remain.


    "Regardless of the eventual resolution of these legal cases, a one size fits all approach to Brexit across the UK simply doesn't work, particularly in relation to Northern Ireland. The choice here is not between a special status or no special status, but rather a negotiated special status or major anomalies emerging.


    "There are too many issues particular to this region, such as cross-border trade, the nature of our economy and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement. The people have spoken in Northern Ireland in favour of the latter and staying within the EU. Brexit cannot be allowed to compromise that.


    "The key linkage around the EU is until now the UK and Ireland have moved in unison around key issues of the movement of people and goods. This is no longer tenable in the context of one state inside and another state outside the EU. Yet, these freedoms are intrinsic to the peace process and our economy prosperity."
  • David Ford
    October 2016

    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
    October 2016

    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
    October 2016

    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
    October 2016

    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
    September 2016

    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
    September 2016

    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."