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

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

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

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

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go next? Naomi Long is addressing delegates and were shortly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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face challenges in the next Westminster election. There will be

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

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

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

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Belfast area. They showed great strength with winning Castlereagh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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They need guarantees of job security. What they have any

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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shameless tactic over employment and learning. She talked about a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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lead position with the commemorations, having had the

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

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

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discussions before that particular debate that Naomi Long raised. She

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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will publish research on what skills might be necessary in the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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have no finer example than Naomi Long.

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

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

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

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number of councillors, including representation in four councils

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

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

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

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Assembly elections. All six outgoing MLA is returned easily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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particularly looking at the 14 years since the Good Friday

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

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

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

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

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could have been forgiven for thinking the job of Alliance had

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

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

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

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

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

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build a different society. The prevailing view elsewhere was that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unionist and nationalist leaders is not reflected by the reality of

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

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

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lines were impatient for change and impatient to see a transformation

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

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progressives who put the past behind them to change Northern

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

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vision which they determined to put into practice and which they

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

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

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

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He brought his background and commitment to non-sectarian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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he achieved with thanks and gratitude. But for his leadership

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

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:16:01.:16:04.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the biggest challenge facing us toe creation of a genuinely shared

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

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

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

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

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

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children being edge kaited together, more people living in shared

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communities, more interface structures coming a process for

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

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

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:17:54.:17:58.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the kpross community youth programmes, Sinn Fein are talking

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

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

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

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

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:19:07.:19:14.

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

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

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barriers, and about building connections rather than fences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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check list we produced and ask could any other party subscribe

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

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department for employment and learning, you know what a

:21:07.:21:12.

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

:21:12.:21:16.

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

:21:16.:21:23.

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

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stated their intention to remove the department for employment and

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

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vandalism against an important economic department, rather than

:21:36.:21:40.

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

:21:40.:21:44.

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

:21:44.:21:49.

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

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

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

:21:58.:22:03.

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

:22:03.:22:13.
:22:13.:22:22.

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

:22:22.:22:25.

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

:22:26.:22:29.

training and he has dealt with tuition fees in higher education

:22:29.:22:34.

and tackled vested interests ore the way we segregate teaching

:22:34.:22:39.

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

:22:39.:22:46.

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

:22:46.:22:50.

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

:22:50.:22:55.

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

:22:55.:22:59.

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

:22:59.:23:07.

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

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

:23:11.:23:15.

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

:23:15.:23:18.

reforms to establish new policing and community safety partnerships

:23:18.:23:23.

are about ensuring we build better relationships between police

:23:23.:23:26.

officers and communityy part of Northern Ireland. Modern policing

:23:26.:23:30.

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

:23:30.:23:37.

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

:23:37.:23:41.

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

:23:41.:23:48.

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

:23:48.:23:52.

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

:23:52.:23:56.

devolved minister. Well too difficult noise at term I

:23:56.:23:59.

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

:24:00.:24:04.

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

:24:04.:24:14.
:24:14.:24:23.

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

:24:23.:24:29.

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

:24:29.:24:37.

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

:24:37.:24:41.

the new minister for employment and learning. His department recognises

:24:41.:24:49.

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

:24:49.:24:54.

Alliance minister delivering change, it is two Alliance Ministers

:24:54.:25:04.

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

:25:04.:25:09.

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

:25:09.:25:13.

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

:25:13.:25:18.

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

:25:18.:25:25.

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

:25:25.:25:31.

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

:25:31.:25:37.

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

:25:37.:25:44.

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

:25:44.:25:51.

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

:25:51.:25:53.

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

:25:54.:25:58.

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

:25:58.:26:03.

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

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

:26:07.:26:16.

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

:26:16.:26:20.

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

:26:20.:26:25.

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

:26:25.:26:32.

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

:26:32.:26:38.

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

:26:38.:26:43.

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

:26:43.:26:46.

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

:26:46.:26:49.

council, the community relations council, the police and the

:26:49.:26:53.

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

:26:53.:26:58.

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

:26:58.:27:03.

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

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

:27:07.:27:14.

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

:27:14.:27:17.

Street and Northumberland Street. We are working with the

:27:18.:27:23.

international funds to help remove barriers. That is Alliance

:27:23.:27:26.

delivering, working in a partnership and leading change. Of

:27:26.:27:32.

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

:27:32.:27:39.

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

:27:39.:27:42.

implement Alliance policies wh what could be one of the most

:27:42.:27:46.

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

:27:46.:27:51.

have close contacts with Alan Chatter, the Irish minister for

:27:51.:27:56.

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

:27:56.:28:00.

it is another example of the constructive attitude that we take

:28:00.:28:05.

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

:28:05.:28:12.

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

:28:12.:28:17.

to strengthen strendsch friendsships with the --

:28:17.:28:25.

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

:28:25.:28:29.

addressing conference. Positive, friendly relationships of the kind

:28:29.:28:39.
:28:39.:28:43.

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

:28:43.:28:50.

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

:28:50.:28:56.

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

:28:56.:29:05.

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

:29:05.:29:10.

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

:29:10.:29:16.

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

:29:16.:29:20.

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

:29:20.:29:25.

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

:29:25.:29:30.

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

:29:30.:29:35.

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

:29:35.:29:45.
:29:45.:29:51.

determined to transform this I have mentioned recent elections.

:29:51.:29:57.

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

:29:57.:30:04.

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

:30:04.:30:08.

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

:30:08.:30:13.

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

:30:13.:30:19.

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

:30:19.:30:26.

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

:30:26.:30:33.

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

:30:33.:30:37.

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

:30:37.:30:46.

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

:30:46.:30:51.

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

:30:51.:30:56.

nationalist rivals, entrenching their positions and the divisions

:30:56.:31:00.

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

:31:00.:31:05.

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

:31:05.:31:09.

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

:31:09.:31:12.

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

:31:12.:31:18.

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

:31:18.:31:24.

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

:31:24.:31:29.

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

:31:29.:31:33.

councils in the other half. Significant electoral campaigns in

:31:33.:31:39.

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

:31:39.:31:46.

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

:31:46.:31:51.

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

:31:51.:31:55.

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

:31:55.:32:02.

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

:32:02.:32:06.

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

:32:06.:32:15.

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

:32:15.:32:21.

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

:32:21.:32:26.

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

:32:26.:32:30.

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

:32:30.:32:36.

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

:32:36.:32:43.

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

:32:43.:32:48.

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

:32:48.:32:52.

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

:32:52.:33:02.
:33:02.:33:10.

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

:33:10.:33:13.

people who consider themselves Unionist. People who consider

:33:13.:33:18.

themselves neither and people who consider themselves both. Those

:33:18.:33:21.

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

:33:21.:33:26.

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

:33:26.:33:30.

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

:33:30.:33:36.

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

:33:36.:33:42.

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

:33:42.:33:46.

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

:33:46.:33:49.

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

:33:50.:33:53.

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

:33:53.:33:57.

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

:33:57.:34:01.

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

:34:01.:34:11.
:34:11.:34:11.

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

:34:11.:34:16.

Alliance. I volunteered with Alliance and work with them,

:34:16.:34:21.

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

:34:21.:34:30.

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

:34:30.:34:36.

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

:34:36.:34:44.

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

:34:44.:34:48.

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

:34:49.:34:53.

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

:34:53.:35:00.

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

:35:00.:35:02.

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

:35:02.:35:07.

more than encouraging better relationships between two distinct

:35:07.:35:14.

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

:35:14.:35:20.

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

:35:20.:35:25.

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

:35:25.:35:33.

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

:35:33.:35:37.

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

:35:37.:35:45.

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

:35:45.:35:52.

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

:35:52.:35:56.

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

:35:56.:35:59.

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

:35:59.:36:08.

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

:36:08.:36:14.

accountable and politics - as a good politicians should not be

:36:14.:36:18.

labelled. All minorities are protected and cherished and, where

:36:18.:36:22.

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

:36:22.:36:29.

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

:36:29.:36:34.

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

:36:34.:36:40.

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

:36:40.:36:43.

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

:36:43.:36:48.

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

:36:48.:36:53.

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

:36:53.:36:57.

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

:36:57.:37:01.

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

:37:01.:37:10.

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

:37:10.:37:14.

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

:37:14.:37:19.

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

:37:19.:37:24.

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

:37:25.:37:30.

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

:37:30.:37:36.

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

:37:36.:37:42.

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

:37:42.:37:47.

Parliament is successfully defended in 2015, what ever the boundaries

:37:47.:37:56.

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

:37:56.:38:04.

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

:38:05.:38:09.

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

:38:09.:38:19.
:38:19.:38:27.

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

:38:27.:38:31.

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

:38:31.:38:35.

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

:38:36.:38:40.

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

:38:40.:38:44.

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

:38:44.:38:54.
:38:54.:38:54.

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

:38:54.:39:04.
:39:04.:39:09.

The party leader enjoying the praise of delegates and a standing

:39:09.:39:19.
:39:19.:39:19.

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

:39:19.:39:25.

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

:39:25.:39:32.

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

:39:32.:39:39.

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

:39:39.:39:44.

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

:39:44.:39:49.

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

:39:50.:39:54.

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

:39:54.:39:59.

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

:39:59.:40:06.

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

:40:06.:40:11.

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

:40:11.:40:16.

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

:40:16.:40:20.

scenario whereby the SDLP and Ulster Unionists wither away. He

:40:20.:40:25.

was challenging their natural supporters, who believe in the

:40:25.:40:29.

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

:40:29.:40:34.

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

:40:34.:40:37.

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

:40:37.:40:46.

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

:40:46.:40:50.

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

:40:50.:40:54.

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

:40:54.:40:59.

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

:40:59.:41:04.

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

:41:04.:41:08.

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

:41:08.:41:12.

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

:41:12.:41:17.

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

:41:17.:41:22.

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

:41:22.:41:27.

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

:41:27.:41:30.

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

:41:30.:41:35.

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

:41:35.:41:40.

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

:41:40.:41:45.

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

:41:45.:41:48.

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

:41:48.:41:54.

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

:41:54.:41:57.

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

:41:57.:42:02.

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

:42:02.:42:06.

the conference that a local government changes in Northern

:42:06.:42:15.

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

:42:15.:42:19.

heard her mixture of sentence. Naomi Long talked about shameless

:42:19.:42:24.

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

:42:24.:42:30.

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

:42:30.:42:36.

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

:42:36.:42:39.

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

:42:39.:42:44.

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

:42:44.:42:51.

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

:42:51.:42:55.

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

:42:55.:43:00.

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

:43:00.:43:04.

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

:43:04.:43:10.

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

:43:10.:43:15.

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

:43:15.:43:20.

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

:43:20.:43:27.

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

:43:27.:43:33.

anger lies was a bitter about the Department of Employment and

:43:33.:43:40.

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

:43:40.:43:45.

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

:43:45.:43:51.

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

:43:51.:43:56.

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

:43:56.:43:59.

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

:44:00.:44:05.

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

:44:05.:44:09.

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

:44:09.:44:14.

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

:44:14.:44:18.

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

:44:18.:44:23.

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

:44:23.:44:27.

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

:44:27.:44:32.

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

:44:32.:44:36.

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

:44:36.:44:40.

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

:44:40.:44:49.

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

:44:49.:44:54.

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

:44:54.:44:59.

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

:44:59.:45:08.

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

:45:08.:45:18.
:45:18.:45:23.

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

:45:23.:45:27.

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

:45:28.:45:30.

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

:45:30.:45:35.

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

:45:35.:45:42.

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

:45:42.:45:47.

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

:45:47.:45:52.

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

:45:52.:45:57.

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

:45:57.:46:01.

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

:46:01.:46:06.

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

:46:06.:46:12.

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

:46:12.:46:18.

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

:46:18.:46:27.

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

:46:27.:46:32.

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

:46:32.:46:38.

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

:46:38.:46:42.

Leading justice is a challenging post and people appreciate how

:46:42.:46:46.

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

:46:46.:46:50.

has shown that he is capable of delivering and handling sensitive

:46:50.:46:54.

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

:46:54.:46:59.

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

:46:59.:47:05.

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

:47:05.:47:11.

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

:47:11.:47:17.

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

:47:17.:47:25.

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

:47:25.:47:31.

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

:47:31.:47:35.

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

:47:35.:47:41.

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

:47:41.:47:47.

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

:47:47.:47:52.

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

:47:52.:47:57.

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

:47:57.:48:01.

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

:48:02.:48:06.

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

:48:06.:48:11.

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

:48:11.:48:18.

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

:48:18.:48:23.

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

:48:23.:48:27.

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

:48:27.:48:32.

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

:48:32.:48:37.

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

:48:37.:48:40.

sector where schools are oversubscribed. There is a desire

:48:40.:48:46.

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

:48:46.:48:50.

There is massive potential for development of the area and I

:48:50.:48:56.

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

:48:56.:49:02.

most financially viable solution. What about the integration and the

:49:02.:49:06.

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

:49:07.:49:13.

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

:49:13.:49:18.

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

:49:18.:49:22.

financial modsle of training college and we will have

:49:22.:49:27.

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

:49:27.:49:33.

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

:49:33.:49:37.

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

:49:37.:49:42.

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

:49:42.:49:47.

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

:49:47.:49:53.

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

:49:53.:50:00.

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

:50:00.:50:04.

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

:50:04.:50:08.

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

:50:08.:50:13.

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

:50:13.:50:19.

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

:50:19.:50:25.

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

:50:25.:50:31.

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

:50:31.:50:37.

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

:50:37.:50:45.

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

:50:45.:50:50.

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

:50:51.:50:56.

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

:50:56.:51:01.

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

:51:01.:51:05.

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

:51:05.:51:13.

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

:51:13.:51:17.

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

:51:17.:51:23.

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

:51:23.:51:28.

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

:51:28.:51:33.

charged periods. Marked by deepening division within society.

:51:33.:51:38.

Reinforcing old divisions, rather than focusing on future progress.

:51:39.:51:43.

By recognising respectfully our shared and difficult history, but

:51:43.:51:48.

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

:51:48.:51:55.

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

:51:55.:51:59.

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

:51:59.:52:03.

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

:52:03.:52:08.

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

:52:08.:52:12.

it. The Taoiseach when visitsing Westminster took time with the

:52:13.:52:16.

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

:52:17.:52:23.

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

:52:23.:52:31.

present heard of the work between the Irish and British Governments

:52:31.:52:37.

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

:52:37.:52:41.

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

:52:41.:52:47.

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

:52:47.:52:55.

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

:52:55.:53:01.

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

:53:01.:53:05.

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

:53:05.:53:11.

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

:53:12.:53:17.

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

:53:17.:53:21.

atkpreement prevent us engage before we would never have achieved

:53:21.:53:26.

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

:53:26.:53:31.

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

:53:31.:53:35.

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

:53:35.:53:42.

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

:53:42.:53:46.

issue of transparency in party political funding in Northern

:53:46.:53:51.

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

:53:51.:53:57.

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

:53:57.:54:00.

which means that while local parties have to make the same

:54:00.:54:06.

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

:54:06.:54:12.

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

:54:12.:54:15.

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

:54:15.:54:21.

situation has improved and while risk can never been eliminated it

:54:21.:54:25.

should not outweigh the right of the public to scrutinise the

:54:25.:54:29.

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

:54:29.:54:33.

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

:54:34.:54:38.

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

:54:38.:54:44.

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

:54:44.:54:48.

the security situation sois bad that it prevents democratic

:54:48.:54:55.

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

:54:55.:54:58.

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

:54:58.:55:05.

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

:55:05.:55:09.

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

:55:09.:55:16.

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

:55:16.:55:22.

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

:55:22.:55:27.

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

:55:28.:55:32.

action on education, housing and cultural expression such as flags

:55:32.:55:39.

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

:55:39.:55:44.

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

:55:44.:55:48.

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

:55:48.:55:53.

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

:55:53.:55:57.

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

:55:57.:56:03.

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

:56:03.:56:07.

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

:56:07.:56:12.

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

:56:12.:56:15.

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

:56:15.:56:21.

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

:56:21.:56:29.

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

:56:29.:56:35.

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

:56:35.:56:41.

possibility of flying the flag at Parliament buildings, there was

:56:41.:56:45.

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

:56:45.:56:51.

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

:56:52.:56:56.

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

:56:57.:57:02.

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

:57:02.:57:08.

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

:57:09.:57:14.

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

:57:14.:57:18.

necessarily flying the flag. meeting is scheduled to discuss

:57:18.:57:23.

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

:57:23.:57:27.

Employment and learning minister and we asked questions about

:57:27.:57:32.

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

:57:32.:57:37.

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

:57:37.:57:42.

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

:57:42.:57:47.

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

:57:47.:57:50.

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

:57:50.:57:54.

examples of that across Northern Ireland. In particular the shared

:57:54.:58:00.

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

:58:00.:58:05.

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

:58:05.:58:09.

real change? That particular programme is making maneingful

:58:09.:58:13.

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

:58:13.:58:20.

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

:58:20.:58:24.

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

:58:24.:58:31.

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

:58:31.:58:36.

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

:58:36.:58:43.

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