Alliance Party publishes Northern Ireland shared future strategy

David Ford David Ford said building a shared future was the biggest challenge facing Northern Ireland

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The Alliance Party has published what it says should be the executive's strategy for creating a shared future in Northern Ireland.

In May of last year, the party pulled out of talks at Stormont on the issue.

Alliance leader David Ford accused the DUP and Sinn Fein of attempting to create "an illusion" that they were working towards a shared future.

Mr Ford said there had not been enough progress on schools, housing or flags.

On Tuesday, the party launched For Everyone, The Alliance Party Blueprint For An Executive Strategy To Build A Shared and Better Future.

Last week the BBC obtained a draft copy of an executive working group strategy paper on community relations, which included a scheme for young children to be paired with buddies across the sectarian divide and a target date of 2022 for bringing down Belfast's peace walls.

On Tuesday Alliance published its own paper.

The party wants 20% of all children in Northern Ireland to go to integrated schools by 2020. That would be a sharp increase from the current figure of 6%.

The party also wants a further 40% of children to go to schools with children from a mix of backgrounds. Alliance want 20% of interface barriers removed over the next decade.

It wants the flying of flags on public roads subjected to regulation, the flying of flags on designated days over public and civic buildings and the negotiation of a common policy for the flying of flags at all district council buildings.

Mr Ford called for all party leaders to commit to an open and inclusive process to deliver an effective strategy.

"Building a shared future in Northern Ireland is the biggest challenge facing our political institutions and wider civic society," Mr Ford said.

"This challenge has been clear for many years, but has now been brought into even sharper focus by recent events on our streets.

"Continued divisions in our society impact upon people in many ways, including how we live, how we learn, how we work and how we play.

"These divisions bring significant human, social, economic and financial costs.

"By contrast, the creation of a shared future would provide better opportunities for all and significantly assist the development of our economy."

The document highlights four key areas:

  • Shared education and services for young people, including more integrated schools
  • Shared communities, including mixed housing as the norm and the removal of interfaces, with the support of communities
  • Shared culture for everyone, including a process for regulating parades
  • Shared approach to the past, including considering a new agency to deal with legacy issues

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