The Alliance Party Alliance Party Conference

The Alliance Party

Coverage of the Leader's speech at the Alliance Party's annual conference. Presented by Tara Mills.

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Hello and welcome to the conference. For the first time we are live to


hear the Alliance Party leader deliver his speech to the face full.


There are -- faithful. The party has hit new heights. Has it peaked?


With one ministerial post about to be scrapped, where does the party


go next? Naomi Long is addressing delegates and were shortly


introduce David Ford. We will hear that speech life. First I am joined


by our political editor. This is the first time the party has got


together to celebrate their success in last year's election. For so


long they were out on the fringes, behind the big four. It felt itself


marginalised. In it now feels it has broken into new ground and has


two of ministers in the executive. One minister was through the


special system, created for justice. There is the sense that alliance


has more than its mandate. Now it faces the challenge in the deal


that was done between Sinn Fein and the DUP with employment and


learning. That seems likely to happen over the course of this


summer. The change will be made potentially in the autumn. They


face challenges in the next Westminster election. There will be


Banbury changes. A good time for them right now but they must insure


they can move on. -- ensure. They were pointing out they have done


well in council elections. They did particularly well in the greater


Belfast area. They showed great strength with winning Castlereagh.


It is significant they are holding their conference in the La Mon


Hotel in the Castlereagh airier. They say they're getting into some


council areas but they face many challenges if David Ford wishes to


keep calm and start challenging the SDLP or the Unionists for that 4th


spot. There has been talked this week about what will happen. Will


they walk away from the Department of Justice portfolio? A lot of


angry statements for the alliance. Naomi Long has talked about the


shameless way, as she would see it, in which opponents have taken the


Department away. While there is anger, they seem to pull her


punches. There is no sense that Alliance is ready to walk away.


They need guarantees of job security. What they have any


success? There does not seem to be an appetite for it? I think they


are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they say, we're walking


out of this executive... They used to portray themselves as the real


opposition at Stormont but if they walked away they would have to


explain it. That is the difficulty. I do not think I get any sense on


the ground of enthusiasm to pull out of the executive altogether. It


looks like they will not like it very much but limpet in the end.


What about the speech by Naomi Long? She talked about this


shameless tactic over employment and learning. She talked about a


reference to Peter Robinson and his support for shared education. She


talked about it as if it were a new idea. Alliance has been among the


pioneers in terms of integrated education down through the ears. A


joke at the expense of Alastair Macdonald, she said she could not


see him because of the lights. That was a joke at his expense. Another


joke I picked up what she had a section that dealt with the past.


This is what the alliance has been calling for. Talks for a consensus


on how to deal with the past. Owen Paterson has started exploratory


dialogue along these lines. He has not shown sufficient enthusiasm to


push this further. She pointed at she sees herself very much in the


lead position with the commemorations, having had the


debate at Westminster. She has said we are pushing the Government


unless. Northern Ireland has already said it has had its budget


discussions before that particular debate that Naomi Long raised. She


has to find a way. This is true, for everyone, of getting back into


the mix. The MPs, as were the MEPs, continue to get missed out.


Particularly in the run-up to the next Westminster election, it will


be interesting to see how she gets back and put herself in the


forefront. She is continuing her speech to delegates. It is


difficult, particularly in the media age, to keep that profile and


to keep it in the public consciousness. A lot of the stuff


that becomes public dialogue, to do with education, it gets decided at


Stormont. That seems to be the place where the local media is


focused. As we get further decisions coming up to be made over


the next few weeks and months, for instance the devolution of


corporation tax which was referred to, we will get maybe more profile


for the MPs. That will come down to negotiations between the


Westminster government and the executive. Let's take a look at


Stephen Farry speech. He was a great pains to point out what he


had done well. He decided he was going to ignore, how dare you take


the job off me? He said if corporation tax is devolved in


Northern Ireland, that is not the be-all and end-all. We have to look


at the kind of skills that investors will have to require. He


will publish research on what skills might be necessary in the


future. He has launched a pilot programme for opening up careers


centres on Saturday morning. Within the current market, people are in


employment but looking to change careers. This would open up the


Careers Service if, during the week, they cannot use the services that


are there at the moment. What about the shared future? Both Stephen


Farry and David thought will start a shared future proving all the


policies in that department. -- David Ford. That is about Section


75 of the Northern Ireland Act. Ministers will say, we have run


this through. What will be the impact of this policy in terms of


equality? The Alliance will say, will this policy help with the


shared future? Here is David Ford going to the podium. He is about to


begin his speech was dug they will start to undertake that. -- his


speech. He might not be there for that much longer. We will hopefully


hear that speech now. He is going to make a quip about that. Thank


you for that introduction. I was at the back of the hall, listening to


talking. A few weeks ago the Ulster Unionists elected a few -- a new


leader. He told everyone he grew up in the leafy suburbs of East


Belfast. He said, if I had lived a mile closer to the city centre, I


could not have been leader. Naomi Long was closer to the city centre.


She got where she got, not because an accident of birth, but because


of hard work and determination. She was Councillor and Lord Mayor


because of her dedication to the people of Belfast. She won a


parliamentary seat but inspired dozens of us to go out and work for


her and thousands to go out and work for her. We do not care where


you are from and what school you went too. What we care about is


what you are doing to make Northern Ireland a better place. We could


have no finer example than Naomi Long.


Conference, we meet today, at least in part to celebrate. Everyone else


is celebrating so I would join in as well. We will celebrate the


tremendous election victories of last year. 50% increase in the


number of councillors, including representation in four councils


where previously there was none. A bigger group continuing to hold the


balance of power and then shall good sense in Belfast. Twice as


many councillors as the UUP here in Castlereagh. Then there were the


Assembly elections. All six outgoing MLA is returned easily.


Stewart Dickson succeeded our former leader. Total vote up 60%


over all. Those votes Annat extra seats giving us the entitlement,


for the first time ever, a specific seat at the executives table. A


couple of weeks later, Stephen Fry joined me at the executive table.


In half of Northern Ireland, we are now not the 5th party. In half of


Northern Ireland, as a result of last year's elections, where now


the third party. That is some progress, that is some victory.


That is leading change. Just at the beginning of this week,


a couple of journalists reminded me of the Accra sea of some of my


recent election predictions. -- accuracy. I said that Naomi Long


could win the East Belfast and she did. I predicted we could have two


alliance ministers and we have. Wait for it, this year, here is my


election prediction. There is not going to be an election in May. If


there were, boy would we do well the Shia! -- this year. With no


election, it gives a bit more time for a detached reflection on where


we stand. This weekend is the 42nd birthday of the party. We are


particularly looking at the 14 years since the Good Friday


Agreement. Back in 1998, in the immediate post agreement period,


there were high hopes of a political shift, that support would


move away from so-called extremes. They were not fulfilled. For the


time it was difficult to convey the role of our party, when people


could have been forgiven for thinking the job of Alliance had


been done. There was ex -- acceptance of the principle of


consent. We knew that the party was about more than these objectives.


They were a framework within which we would work for a genuinely


shared future. In the language of the civil engineer, the agreement


was not a ceiling to ambitions but the foundation on which we would


build a different society. The prevailing view elsewhere was that


leadership was granted to the UUP and SDLP and subsequently to be DUP


and Sinn Fein. It was assumed all would be resolved by the political


elite on either side of the old divide. We should acknowledge there


has been some progress. We welcome that progress. We are in a better


place than a few years ago. We will recognise genuine movement towards


Our vision from any quarter. Let us not be deluded and shy away from


pointing out where those high expectations of 1998, the hopes of


an overwhelming majority who voted in that referendum on the agreement,


simply have not been fulfilled. We will not be frightened away from


pointing out where we need to go further or when the rhetoric of


Unionist and nationalist leaders is not reflected by the reality of


what we see in the communities we represent. That is why the party is


so relevant and why support is growing. Those who founded The


lines were impatient for change and impatient to see a transformation


of Northern Ireland. -- Alliance. They formed an alliance of


progressives who put the past behind them to change Northern


Ireland. That small group had a real vision, not just division, a


vision which they determined to put into practice and which they


sacrificed much to achieve. Sadly, we said farewell last year to


Oliver and Naomi Long has already paid significant tribute to him. He


was the driving force be - is back behind the formation of the party.


He brought his background and commitment to non-sectarian


politics. He was minister in the office of law reform. He led the


party right through to the assembly and was actively involved in a


negotiating team in the run-up to the Good Friday Agreement. As Naomi


Long reminded us, he came so close to winning and East Belfast seat in


1979 but he lived to see Naomi Long win that seat and play his part in


the campaign two years ago. Who can forget the powerful and determined


speech he made at the anniversary dinner? Today we remember all that


he achieved with thanks and gratitude. But for his leadership


we would not be where we are today it and nor would not an island. --


Oliver and that team were impatient. They weren't prepared to accept the


status quo. Nor are we in 2012. That is why we panned the cohesion


strategy dub lished in 2010. Should we have praised their achievement


in agreeing any strategy? Some may say so, but I is a no, our job,


even though we're in the Executive is not to walk away from our


principles. Our task is to hold to our ideals and denand actions that


we knee are needed. So even though we have worked with other parties


to produce a strategy, we will not sign up to anything that sells that


name short. The test for our support will be high. What is at


stake is whether orpt the Executive will deliver for our community on


the biggest challenge facing us toe creation of a genuinely shared


future. Let me be clear, I can tr CIS strategy is one of the most


important pieces of work the Assembly will do. I have asked


Chris Little to make it a priority, to engage with the other parties to


work for to strongest strategy to enable us to build a shared future.


I will not sign off on any strategy that does not result in more


children being edge kaited together, more people living in shared


communities, more interface structures coming a process for


dealing with the scourge of flags and m blems that blight so many --


emblems that blight so many areas. I will not compromise on a shared


But of course, we know that everyone's talking of a shared


future these days. When he is not threat on the collapse the power


sharing Executive over the badge on a pap, Peter Robinson is talking of


a shared future. When they're not insisting on maintaining the


sectarian part of the agreement, the SDLP talk about a shared future.


When he is not wrapping himself in the Union flag, Mike Nesbitt's


talking about a shared future. When they're not cutting the funding of


the kpross community youth programmes, Sinn Fein are talking


about a shared future. But talk is cheap. Like a ticket for the odd


sports vent being played by the other side, genuine leader will


turn up at winds sor Park before and not after God save the Queen.


Or arrive in arma before the Dr McKenna cup match. Skres churs are


empty if they don't lead to actions Because what costs in leadership is


to actually lead. To go into community and talk about lowering


barriers, and about building connections rather than fences.


What Peter Robinson preachs in the press is what he and his DUP


colleagues should actually put into practice on the streets of Belfast.


And what costs is also to face down bards of schools and say to them,


sorry, we know you're proud of your history, but time has come to think


of the future and segregation isn't part of the future that any of us


should be paying taxes for whra. Martin McGuinness claims to aspire


to, he and Sinn Fein should deliver in relation to teacher training.


Those men have spent time look back to the achievements of our


industrial past. But in doing so, how much attention have they paid


to the fact that politicians' actions in the decade of 1910 to


1920 entrenched the divisions that we live with today, the politicians


ee whose mantle they claim to inherit. So let's learn the lessons


and look forward. There is a question to be asked are we to


spend ten years rewriting the past, or writing a few stpuech? A shared


future. A future for all of us, freed from the sectarian dogmas of


past. Just look around this room, just look at who we are, the


diverse backgrounds we come fr, look at what we say and what we do,


look at what we campaigned for in councils in Westminster, in the


Assembly and in the two departments we run. Look at the shared future


check list we produced and ask could any other party subscribe


tulle ten points? You have heard from Steven about his work in the


department for employment and learning, you know what a


difference it is making to have not just a competent minister, but an


Alliance minister, and how steefren is using his opportunity to work


for a shared future. We all know that the DUP and Sinn Fein have


stated their intention to remove the department for employment and


learning, there are two possible explanations. Perhaps it is just


vandalism against an important economic department, rather than


the properly thought through reform that we want to see. But maybe it


is malice against Alliance, because of the strength of this party is a


threat to the big two, specialfully east Belfast. It happens all over


the world, ministers lose their posts. That is politics. But it


looks as if Stephen is to establish a record. He is the first minister


anywhere in nez islands threatened with the sack, because both he and


his party are successful in what As you have heard, Stephen is


working on a strategy for young people not in education, working or


training and he has dealt with tuition fees in higher education


and tackled vested interests ore the way we segregate teaching


training. So in case you think it is on Del that is achieving. Let me


say something stab work of the department for adjustment -- about


the work of the department of justice. Well the work is not yet


complete. It is clear that we waste significant sums, because of the


segregated nature of our society. Last year I was able to tell


conference we were developing a new community safety strategy. As I


said then, would we have included the word shared without an Alliance


minister? The department has a key role in supporting the police, the


reforms to establish new policing and community safety partnerships


are about ensuring we build better relationships between police


officers and communityy part of Northern Ireland. Modern policing


has a big part to play in delivering a shared future. As


minister responsible for prisons, I devote time to reform of our system.


Unlike the police service there were no big changes in years after


the agreement. Indeed I was told by a former director minister that


prison reform was put in the "Too difficult a"File and left for


devolved minister. Well too difficult noise at term I


understand or any alliance minister understands. Like much else in the


feeltd of justice, rather than being too difficult, prison reform


I can assure you we are tackling the reform programme and changing


from a model dominated by custody to work where we are work working


to make society safer. I ebbed the new skills centre in a prison with


the new minister for employment and learning. His department recognises


the role it can play in the are reform process. That is not just an


Alliance minister delivering change, it is two Alliance Ministers


delivering change together. We have reFered to one legacy issue faced


by my department, the so - called peace walls. They are a blight on


parts of Belfast and other towns. They're remindsers of the world we


want the leave behinds. Early in my post I was asked to ex tent e the


end a wall in Belfast, because of anti-social behaviour and acts of


violence. I don't blame the civil servants. But I have spent a


political lifetime seeking to end division. I opposed the last lig


barrier built at Hazelwood school. Yes, the irony, at Hazelwood


integrated primary school. So over a few meetings we worked out how we


could support those working with young people and invest in people,


not in barriers. We didn't extends the barrier there and that set the


tone for different attitudes. So last summer when there was rioting


in Belfast, we didn't extend barriers to make them higher or


longer. In September, I had the privilege, I didn't just talk to


officials, partners of the local community about opening up barriers.


I went up theen trim Road and helped a Kos dozen children kaut


ribbon and cut a gate in a bar jer that divided that park. The event


was covered life on the BBC. How sad that opening a gate in a public


park made live national news. But how positive that the local people


from both sides of the barrier supported by ground work, the


council, the community relations council, the police and the


department of justice, wanted to open the barrier that had gaided


them for so long. That morning one of those present spoke of a peace


gate and he was right. Because walls are a symbol of hate. While


opening up walls is a symbol of progress to the peaceful society we


desire. As well as that park, we have seen progress at Newington


Street and Northumberland Street. We are working with the


international funds to help remove barriers. That is Alliance


delivering, working in a partnership and leading change. Of


course, one of the key ways in which the department works is we


agreed a programme wfr -- before I became minister so a minister can


implement Alliance policies wh what could be one of the most


contentious departments. As minister of justice, I'm pleased to


have close contacts with Alan Chatter, the Irish minister for


justice. And with Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish cabinet Secretary, and


it is another example of the constructive attitude that we take


to the relationships in this region on this island and within these


islands. But it is not just common- sense, it was a pleasure last night


to strengthen strendsch friendsships with the --


friendships with Vernon Coker, and Brian Hayes, the minister of state,


addressing conference. Positive, friendly relationships of the kind


which we're committed. -- committed to. Conference, we can take pride


in what we have achieved. But what we have acheefrd simply marks out


the early steps. Earlier on I spoke about Oliver Napier and we lost


another stalwart with the passing of Addy More row. He was a deputy


leader of the party for 16 years and a member of the 1982 ass my and


served in so many role and was an inspiration. He was committed to


peace and reconciliation in every aspect of his life. While he


rejoiced in our success, I know he feared that as a community we


haven't done enough to secure a peaceful and genuine shared future.


He was certain that among all the parties, alliance alone was


determined to transform this I have mentioned recent elections.


The trend of results in recent years is clear. The UUP and the


SDLP are mirror images of each other. Their support drains away.


They cannot convey a sense of purpose to the electorate. They are


casting about for relevance but not connecting. Sinn Fein and the DUP


are also mirror images of each other. If the SDLP and the UUP are


to be pitied, Sinn Fein and the DUP are to be feared. They have settled


into a cosy calf up. The proposed destruction of the Department for


Employment and learning, plans for a dual carriageway, major spending


decisions taken on the basis of one for me and one for you. An agreed


policy where they share out the spoils of victory over Unionist and


nationalist rivals, entrenching their positions and the divisions


their policies represent. So much for the two parties left behind in


the past and the two parties operating the carve up in the


present. Vets have a look at this party. We are on the rise and look


to the future. We are connecting with people and we have shown we


can deliver. In Westminster, the Assembly, council chambers Accra on


the streets in the third and 4th biggest spending departments. Be


third party in one half of the region was representation in five


councils in the other half. Significant electoral campaigns in


six more. We have not done that for many years. We are building on


strong support and setting targets and meeting them. We're keeping


promises. We're not resting on our laurels. We have made detailed and


ambitious plans for the future. I make it clear appealed to those who


vote for, are members of, and even those who are elected and run -- as


representatives of other parties, do you want to be locked into the


same of politics, what you want to see a step change? Is the Unionists


and SDLP really going to deliver the future our country needs? If


you think they are, carry on. If you want to see eight genuinely


shared future, will you ever be able to achieve it in those


parties? Do you want there to be a never-ending battle for Unionist or


nationalist votes? To those people, I challenge you, take a look at


this shared future checklist. If you agree with it, can sign up to


it, this is the party you should be in if you want to transform society.


In this party, there are people who consider themselves nationalist and


people who consider themselves Unionist. People who consider


themselves neither and people who consider themselves both. Those


positions are all fine. In this party, although we may have


different backgrounds, we may wish to hold on to them. We do not let


them imprison us. If you want to build a united community, it really


is time to move out and move on. Do not wait for the future to happen


and come along at some point down the line. Join us, play your part,


make it happen tomorrow and in the coming weeks and months. One thing


that depresses me is, when I talked to people on the doorsteps and so


they want things to change, they hope they do but they do not think


it will happen in their lifetime. Maybe their children's children


will not be educated together. Maybe barriers will be brought down


by another generation yet unborn. I refuse to accept it. I joined


Alliance. I volunteered with Alliance and work with them,


represent them and now lead the party. I believed the politics of


the country can change. We need to truly unites our community. Today I


must mention another person in that context, when he lit a candle for


this society rather than a curse the darkness. Ray Davies recognise


the need to reconcile this community. The end of the last


period of violence did not mean a shared society. He died earlier


this week but left a powerful legacy. He remains a huge


inspiration. There is much more to be done and ending violence, much


more than encouraging better relationships between two distinct


groups. We need to move to a spirit of sharing and will cohesion. In


alliance, we follow in a noble tradition of dissenters. We


dissented in 1970 when we establish the party and we do cent in 2012.


We're not prepared to accept the status Clegg -- status quo. We'd


descent from the notion that some of our people are born Unionists


and some are born nationalists. And the at leat stultifying insistence


that with change one side out breeds the other. -- utterly


stultifying. I was asked in a meeting with the SDLP recently, if


you do not believe we should stick with the Good Friday Agreement,


what do you agree win -- in? We believe politics should be more


accountable and politics - as a good politicians should not be


labelled. All minorities are protected and cherished and, where


the share power on the basis of what we agreed to deliver, rather


than a simple car but. This drives me and the party - a radical change


to the future of our community. Conference, two years ago, I


challenged you to win a seat at Westminster and you delivered. Last


year I challenge due to receive the second ministerial post and he


delivered. I challenge you to win council seats in areas we were not


represented and to you delivered. In the last few years, we have


changed the electoral map. Five years ago there were four main


parties and now there are five. Before the media overlooked us and


now they look for us. Why we have achieved much, we will not rest. We


will work relentlessly to achieve our targets. We have proven we will


achieve and will settle for nothing less than continuing success. What


is next? What is the next stage in his party's growth? I think in the


words of Naomi Long, it is time to lift the ceiling of our electoral


ambitions. In 2014, we will elect yet more Alliance councillors. We


worked to ensure that? Another challenge, that our seat in


Parliament is successfully defended in 2015, what ever the boundaries


happen to beat. We owe it to Naomi Long to achieve that.


APPLAUSE a third challenge to you, a third challenge that, at the time


of the next assembly Macro elections, we will have moved his


party up quids out of 5th place. Conference, the last few years have


been critical for the growth of the party. The years ahead will be


critical for the future of our community. We have been leading


change and delivering change. Our community needs that change. The


work of building the party and a genuinely shared future for all the


people must advance. Let's all commit to that. Thank you very much.


The party leader enjoying the praise of delegates and a standing


ovation just at the end of his speech. Joined by Naomi Long, the


new MP at Westminster. That was based -- ate trend to ramp the


speech referring to that electoral success in the general election. --


a trend throughout the speech. An interesting speech from David Ford.


He wants to try to ensure that Naomi Long retains her seat. She


did have an historic victory in east Belfast. We are having a


Parliamentary Boundary Change which will make it much more of a South


East Belfast seat. It is more uncharted territory. They will have


to work hard to ensure she hangs on. The theme of that speech was, as


David Ford said at the end, rather than holding on to what they have


got, there is room for growth. He was looking towards a dream


scenario whereby the SDLP and Ulster Unionists wither away. He


was challenging their natural supporters, who believe in the


traditional moderate politics, the shared future, to come towards the


party has a better vehicle to achieve their aims were stuck next


spring in the Stephen Farry. thank you for joining us. What did


you make of that speech? Achieve their aims. You were seeing a party


full of confidence and optimism. We have had a number of very good


elections recently. We're setting the agenda of making further gains


over the elections to come. We feel we're the only party in Northern


Ireland that anyone - irrespective of background - can support. There


is no ceiling on ambitions. We're there to build a shared future and


to represent the entire community. What do you put that success down


to? Are people voting for you because it is not about


sectarianism? Is it about hard work on the streets? It is a combination


of things. We are hard workers. People know the quality and


consistent service that we bring. We have more and more people who


know we have to move away from the politics, as defined by violence,


and politics defined by vision. We have major economic opportunities.


That involves turning this region into a modern society - an open


economy - a shared future. Someone's background is of no


relevance whatsoever. It is what potential they bring to a vibrant,


polite society. That is where you see very young people rallying to


the cause of the party. There are so many young faces, not just at


the conference that a local government changes in Northern


Ireland in the Assembly. I am in the middle of the age group.


heard her mixture of sentence. Naomi Long talked about shameless


tactics of the opponents in taking your department away. David Ford


said you were the only minister who faces the top four being successful.


They rarely has been no kickback from the party, no serious threat


that you will walk out of the executive. Everyone needs to be


particularly careful not to take the party for granted. They have


done that and got away with it. is a live issue. Any decision to


renominated will have to be taken by the party council. We will see,


in the context of where we are at, what that will be. Do not take us


for granted. Why had he not use this conference as an opportunity


to debate on whether you should stay or go? There is a sense of


anger at what has been done. It is not about me, by the way. It is


about the mandate that thousands of people gave the Alliance Party at


the election. They voted for an Alliance voice. That is where the


anger lies was a bitter about the Department of Employment and


learning. -- anger lies. It is about. They are talking about there


being eight departments. Picking off one department, just because it


is an Alliance department, it seems reckless. That is putting it mildly.


We have an agenda based around skills. We need a sharp cutting


edge to be offering we are giving local businesses and investors. If


we plant that, it is a potential tragedy. We see that in terms of


voices coming from the community. They are telling the Government to


be very careful. Have you had the sense from people, I spoke to


delegates last night and this morning, to get the sense that


people want David Ford to walk away? I did not. People appreciate


we have a role to play in government. We do not want to walk


away. A very clear messages about as delivering - whether at


Westminster or on the floor of the assembly - in terms of the two


departments we halt. They appreciate the a-pawn -- the


importance of justice. They need to in that that role. What we are


asking for is a proper process, where we discuss the future of the


executive. There is a whole host of issues we have to consider. Let's


have a proper, rational debate and reduce the department's. Is that


We have a voice and... The decision you want is being ignored. We have


had a broad announcement made by the First Minister and deputy First


Minister, they're doing a consultation. It is my


understanding that the mess dge from that is clear and that they


want the decision taking on sound policy and economics. If Del is


going, they would want to see a department of the economy. What


they don't want a political carve up to undermine the work that is


happening. If the Alliance is reduced to a one department party,


shouldn't you follow the example of the SDLP and the unionists, where


the leader does not consider the minister. We have got ourselves in


a trap. It is the norm in every other coalition that leaders if


they want to take places in governments. One or two parties


have got themselves in some trap around this. The -- that would be


the right thing to do. You would be happy for him to continue in port


jobs. Yes and the party are happy with the job David is doing.


Leading justice is a challenging post and people appreciate how


difficult it is, with the sensitivities around the post. He


has shown that he is capable of delivering and handling sensitive


issues. It is important that that, that people recognise what he is


doing and also leading the party. Let's look at the specifics in your


speech, you talk about the cost of division, but yet the Alliance


Party supporting integrated education, wis which is an -- which


is an expensive third sector. Will you move away and go with shared


education? We see a spectrum of models of shared education. All fit


in. We have too many schools. So too much money is invested in


school buildings, rather than the interests of people and of proper


teaching. So sharing means a consldaigs of what we have and the


apex of that range of models. see integrated schools being kept


open at the expense of mainstream or Catholic schools? You see


pressure for this, often you see a village with a state school and a


Catholic school. There is pressure there. It make sense for both


schools to come together and have an integrated school, rather than


busing students on a central basis to different ys. There is


opposition to that, a lot of this is pie in the sky, a lot of people


are opposed to this and want to sends their child to a state or


Catholic school. Vested interests will always kick nfplts but if you


look at the opinion polls, they have shown around two thirds of


parents want to have the option of integrated schools. It is the only


sector where schools are oversubscribed. There is a desire


for that modsle. We only have 6% of children at integrated schools.


There is massive potential for development of the area and I


stress this is not just about the best outcome for education, but the


most financially viable solution. What about the integration and the


merging of the teaching training. That is something you wish that you


could have got on top of and taken through in your tenure? I'm still


in post and we have a process under way and I'm adopted a review of the


financial modsle of training college and we will have


discussions about models of sharing. It is a difficult issue with a lot


of passions around the table. But we have too many institutions in


Northern Ireland, recruiting too many teach efrs and we have to have


a system that is not based on protectsing the status quo. Change


has to happen. The current model is not sustainable. And let's hammer


out the best way forwards that. Will have to be a model of sharing.


Wave personal party view around an integrated model, but I want to


hear the views of other others. There was talk of May being the


time that the justice compromise came to an ends and then this


solution came up from the DUP and Sinn Fein in terms of doing awhich


with your D when do you expect that to be put into effect? They're


talking about this and May has gone as a dedsline. The dedsline has


taken place, so that ledline is out of way. There is no clarity as to


when things are going to happen. But it is important that I as


minister and my department remain focused on the job in hand. I have


an ambitious agenda of work and we have a lot of achievements. I am


pressing on regardless of the speculation. Now let's pause and we


got a glimpse of the party's sole MP, let's hear some of that teach e


speech where she said it was time for the Secretary of State to start


dealing with issues of the past. has the potential to allow us to


explore our past through education and discussion, helping us to learn


from our past and to how we can create stronger relationships. By


contrast, if handled poorly, it has the potential to be a highly


charged periods. Marked by deepening division within society.


Reinforcing old divisions, rather than focusing on future progress.


By recognising respectfully our shared and difficult history, but


refusing to be captives to it. We can use this time as a water shed


between our divided past and our future. The east/west dimension was


important and it remains important, if we're successfully to explore


and commemorate that period in the years ahead and develop as a


country. Following that debate, and the discussions which pro followed


it. The Taoiseach when visitsing Westminster took time with the


Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the local MPs to visits


an exhibition on the third home rule bill in Westminster. All of us


present heard of the work between the Irish and British Governments


is ongoing. But also our more recent past has been addressing


with government in Westminster, seeking to address the past and its


legacy in a manner that can deliver a more reconciled future. The talks


in which the Secretary of State has been engaged are as a result of our


pressure. However there would appear to be little enthuse ya. --


enthusiasm on his part for further edge gaugement. He is corrects,


there is a lack of consensus among local parties. However this can be


no excuse for lack of effort to achieve consensus. Had lack of


atkpreement prevent us engage before we would never have achieved


any political progress. I would renew what is not just my call, but


through an Alliance motion, also the call of the Assembly to the


Secretary of State to reckon seen all-party talks to seek a


comprehensive way forward. I also had the opportunity to raise the


issue of transparency in party political funding in Northern


Ireland with the Prime Minister. I think he was just relieved I didn't


ask about dinners. Last year, I pressed him to remove the exemption


which means that while local parties have to make the same


financial returns to the Electoral Commission, the names of donors who


gave over �7,500 remain unpublished in Northern Ireland. I understand


why this may have been necessary in the past. But the security


situation has improved and while risk can never been eliminated it


should not outweigh the right of the public to scrutinise the


finances of local party and see who their donors are and to judge


whether parties are influenced by those donations. It is not credible


for local parties on one hands to argue that Northern Ireland is a


safe and attractive destiny for tourism, while on the other arguing


the security situation sois bad that it prevents democratic


scrutiny. That was the east Belfast MP. Let's hear from one of the east


Belfast MLAs. Are you satisfied with thousand conference has gone?


I think it is one of our biggest conferences. -- how the conference


has gone? You got a name check in the speech, but you have a


difficult job, you're on the group that will look at the CSI strategy


and how we go foe waerd cross communities. -- fordz wards. It is


a crucial Strath strategy and we need to tackle division and get


action on education, housing and cultural expression such as flags


and emblems. It is an important working group. We want a robust


strategy. When you took the justice brief, that is one of the condition,


you got a draft paper that was lambasteed as lacking substancement.


Are you going to set this as a condition for keep on with justice


and that there should be an agreement of a cohesion and sharing


strategy that makes a difference? We're committed to playing a


constructive role and we won't agree a strategy that doesn't set


out targets for change. When you link the two, it is either all or


not guilty. You have power you can use. We are committeded to playing


a constructive role and to find a solution within the group. Do you


have an a notion when you will come up with? We have made progress.


This a date for it? Not at the moment, no. When its came to the


possibility of flying the flag at Parliament buildings, there was


ambiguity could be read into your stance. Where do you stands? Would


you support the flying of the flag? I'm not sure that is the most


pressing issue for people. They're worrying about foods on the table


and employment. Our position is to support the current state of


affairs. But our representative is open to mature discussion to ensure


the Assembly build rgs as inclusive as possible. That wouldn't


necessarily flying the flag. meeting is scheduled to discuss


that. What about the aspect of edge xaigs. I spoke to the Department of


Employment and learning minister and we asked questions about


education. It is difficult when on the one hand you have funding going


to a third secondor, but you say we can't afford the two sectors we


have. How do you square that circle? Our ideal scenario, we


would have as much integgraited education as possible, but we want


to see a move to more shared education solutions. We have


examples of that across Northern Ireland. In particular the shared


education programme is delivering joined up education. Is that not a


day-to-day thing, you go to one school once in a term. It is not


real change? That particular programme is making maneingful


change, bringing schools together. - emeaningful. We can't settle for


one day here and one there, we need real shared education and an


integrated system. In term of east Belfast, does the boundary change


make it harder or easier for you to hold that seat? We will fight that


seat on our record on the ground, regardless of what boundary it is.


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