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

Future Northern Ireland Assembly changes outlined by governments

Stormont would put arrangements in place for an opposition as early as March 2015, according to the government paper circulated to the parties at Stormont House last week.

Read full article


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    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

    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.

  • rate this

    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

    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

    Comment number 5.

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


Comments 5 of 18



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.