Alliance shared future plans ambitious

 
Stephen Farry and David Ford of Alliance Stephen Farry and David Ford of Alliance launch their shared future plan

The publication of the Alliance document "For Everyone" comes a few days after the BBC obtained a leaked copy of a draft report prepared by Stormont's cross-party working group on community relations.

Alliance's proposals on education are more radical than those contained in the Cohesion Sharing and Integration (CSI) draft report.

Whilst the cross-party report suggested a "buddy scheme" for nursery and primary school children and anti-sectarianism classes, Alliance is pushing for a tripling of the number of children attending integrated schools.

The Alliance proposal that all new-build schools should be integrated, except in exceptional cases, doesn't quite amount to the "End Catholic Education" headlined by the Irish News.

However, it has prompted criticism from the DUP and Sinn Fein, as well as the SDLP assembly member and former teacher Sean Rogers who claims Alliance seems prepared to "eliminate parental choice entirely".

On flags, "For Everyone" says the designated days policy recently adopted by Belfast City Council should be applied to all public and civic buildings.

It says a common policy on flag flying should be applied to all the 11 new councils due to be created under the Review of Public Administration.

Although the document doesn't explicitly state it, Alliance officials confirm that their preferred policy for all council buildings is to fly the union flag on designated days, which, if adopted, could create a stir in those western districts, which don't currently fly flags.

Alliance also wants to restrict flag flying on the public highway.

"For Everyone" says there should be zero tolerance for paramilitary flags.

It suggests that those who want to display legal flags on street furniture such as lampposts might be licensed to do so for a fortnight around a particular celebration, after which they would have to take them down.

The Stormont working party group draft report refers to the development of proposals for flying flags - but it's evident from the square brackets and typefaces used that this suggestion remains disputed.

Moreover earlier this month Peter Robinson told me the DUP would reject any Parades Commission style body to regulate flag flying on the streets.

On how to take community relations work forward, Alliance proposes a revamped, more powerful, Community Relations Council to be known as the "Shared Future Council".

By contrast the Stormont working group paper appears to either abolish or relegate the Community Relations Council to the sidelines, instead choosing to expand the current Equality Commission, under the title of "Equality and Good Relations Commission".

The Alliance document is more than 70 pages long, whilst the Stormont CSI draft is over 100 pages in length.

UDA flag The party says there should be zero tolerance of paramilitary flags

So a comprehensive "compare and contrast" would tax most readers' patience.

But there is one interesting area in which Alliance appears less ambitious than the other parties' draft report.

This is in relation to peacelines, where the Alliance target of removing 20% of interface barriers by 2023 is far more cautious than the CSI draft report target of eliminating all peace walls by 2022.

Questioned about this disparity on Good Morning Ulster, the Alliance leader David Ford said his party's proposal was "more realistic" than what he called the "grand-standing" approach taken by the others.

However the 2022 target date for the "elimination of all divisive structures" which I reported last week was not a new idea hatched by the other Stormont parties after Alliance quit the Cohesion Sharing and Integration working group.

In fact the 2022 target can be found in an earlier document drafted in May last year, before Alliance withdrew their representative from the CSI group.

 
Mark Devenport Article written by Mark Devenport Mark Devenport Political editor, Northern Ireland

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    kingbillysbudgie.more like oorwilliescukkoo.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    And the Alexandra! Now they really are Union Rags.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    Nice piece of Grafiti at the side of the Times Bar.R.I.R.from the Boyne too Afganistan.. WOW Must be the oldest Regiment. .

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    By the way,why do'es it take so long for the inept PSNI to arrest and prosecute these sectarian facebook bullies.When a nationalist man put a remark about Gre(gory) Fumble on facebook,he was arrested,,charged, fined and recieved a (suspended) jail sentence, ONLY because he had just found a new job.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    Re.KBB, Unionist people need to get justice for Bloody Friday ,La Mon,etc,etc.Where the ( UNIONIST PEOPLE ) the only ones killed and injured in these BLOODY ATROCITIES ?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

    Re. KBB,Have your feathers been plucked! The Irish in Ulster are a very small minority.Wise up you plonker,Ulster is a divided provincial part of the country of ireland,made up of 9 counties,of witch I would lay odds that the Protestant British are the tiny minority.Next time do your sums before coming out to play your dopey mind games.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    This is PRECISELY the problem with N Ireland. Apartheid. The Troubles, violence, discrimination - all climb over themselves to be seen to be against the symptoms. But nobody wants to address the disease - two communities share this land but live entirely seperate lives.

    Good on the Alliance Party for stating what's necessary & being willing to take the inevitable flak from both childish sides.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 11.

    Maybe we can replace Baggott and his gutleess, gold silver and yellow command structure, an absolute embarrassment to Policing, who have facilitated Belfast being brought to a standstill, by thugs for 8 weeks.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 10.

    Quite happy to see the Union Flag coming down, it really was becoming a bit of an eyesore.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 9.

    #8 and #7,

    sounds like a sudden outbreak of common sense on this board from people like you ! (Ban lamppost flags, justice for all etc)

    watch out or they will ban your comments ...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 8.

    Flags on lamposts should be banned. The decent majority of Protestant/Catholic shouldn't be dictated to by riff raff.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 7.

    I hope that everyone can get justice.
    However, your comment, "Also glad to hear that the young guy from monaghan may get some justice" seems insincere to me. I think you only said it to make your comment sound balanced.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 6.

    The Alliance Party simply suggested that the flag be treated as it is in the rest of the UK. What's wrong with that?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    A secular education system is the first step to ending sectarianism in Northern Ireland

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    I agree with the ideas about schooling more than anything,

    Although I acknowledge that at times state schools may be not that much better, Catholic children (I say this as a Catholic myself) are drilled as much in Catholic doctrine as in mathematics and reading.

    Why can't Catholic parents force religion on their kids at home and leave teachers to get on with the real lessons?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 3.

    As regards to removing flags are these people mentally challenged? For every flag they take down 100 will replace them. When will Alliance learn the gfa is as dead as their political future. I really fear the return of large scale violence here unless the unionist people start to get justice ie bloody friday la mon enniskillen need I go on. The authorities know the people responsible. Act now!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    Also glad to hear that the young guy from monaghan may get some justice. I hope the families of the 3 RUC men murdered a few days before bloody sunday get the same treatment.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1.

    Alliance are finished so why waste licence payers money reporting on their fantasy politics. They killed any idea of a shared future when they disrespected the national flag. The irish in Ulster are still a small minority so why should we bend over backwards to accommodate them. Who's next the polish or the Chinese at least they contribute to our society.

 

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