02/03/2013 Alliance Party Conference

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Live coverage of Leader David Ford's speech from the Alliance Party Annual Conference.

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And hello and welcome to the programmes. Today we have


highlights from a gathering of the Alliance Party including David


Ford's Aquino is speech. He will be taking to the podium at very


shortly. It has been a difficult few months for the party following


the decision at Belfast to only fly the Union flag on certain days. We


can see Naomi Long addressing the conference live. She has of course


faced a death threat. With me in studio is the political expert,


Professor Rick Wilford and at the La Mon Hotel for us, our political


editor, Mark Devenport. Give us a flavour of what has been happening


out there so far this morning will stop there was a dinner last night


and they have had a couple of interesting speakers so far? The


yes, they had a dinner last night and their guest was the Labour


business spokesmen and they have already heard from the Liberal


Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes who introduced Naomi Long who is


speaking right now. Simon Hughes paid tribute to Naomi Long and how


she has handled the last few months and I would say the whole business


of the flag dispute and the intimidation of the attacks are has


not been hidden away in any way. It has been very much to the fore. The


party president paid tribute to those who had faced intimidation


and attacked in particular the two Unionist parties saying that the


pressure they had brought to bear had demonstrated unsuitability to


office. We have seen a whole series of references to that during the


course of the morning. At an emotional Maire Hendron who is one


of the Belfast City Council's who was involved in that decision to


fly the flag on designated days, she was one of the first because


this morning and she made an emotional speech and got a standing


ovation? Yes, both her and other Belfast city councillors were


defending their position and the two nationalist parties have been


looking for the removal of the slide and the Unionists have been


looking for it to be maintained at 3 and 65 days a year. The Alliance


Party have stuck to their decision despite pressure. They will be


hoping they will be able to move on to the electoral high-ground having


occupied the moral high ground in the last few months. That is a more


open question because we have yet to see an electoral test of what it


will do in some of those Unionist areas where they have previously


relied on support. What you think we can expect from David for it in


his keynote speech? I think we will be hearing more of the same, a


tribute to those who have been intimidated and also start defence


of the party's plan for a shared future. On that topic, let us turn


to one of the party's MLAs, Chris Lyttle. In East Belfast. What has


it been like for you in recent weeks? We have an exceptional team


in East Belfast so my colleagues Naomi Long, Judith Cochrane and I


have focused on getting on with our job and our staff has shown great


courage to get on with a job. attributes to those who faced


intimidation here but there is a hard edge question - will it pay


you electoral dividends or when you suffer? We're hearing from Naomi


Long, some would say she only one that's the because she was able to


gather support in loyalist areas and that now also disappear? I have


no doubt we take our support from across the community and we will


continue to do that. I have been an Alliance Party member since 2002


and this is the most encouraging conference. Given the electoral


maps, it is a predominantly Unionist seat. It is a cross-


community seat, to be honest. Naomi Long drew support from across the


Community and research all of the community. We have published a


shared future strategy and there is a huge amount of people who want to


see a political party that parrot houses building a shared future.


The last week has seen the formation of a new party, we have


yet to know its name but a Basil McCrea and John McAllister say they


will create this Unionist Party, are you concerned this might appear


to your supporters? In my opinion, the name of the party to build a


shared policies is the Alliance Party and I stick to that. We have


published our strategy, we want to go out and engage with people from


all backgrounds who we think one to see our ideas going forward. We


have over 70% of people who want to see integrated education, 44%


people supported our slide flying decision. We need to move on and


focus on the economy. As you come under more pressure, he would


consider going into opposition? two ministers in the Executive are


delivering a real change. I think we are affecting real change at


this moment in time. We have to leave it there for now. That is a


sense of what is going on here. Let us hear the views of my studio


guest, Professor Rick Wilford. We are waiting to hear what the party


leader has to say and we may hear a little of Naomi Long's comments in


a moment or two but first of all, it has been a difficult few months


for the Alliance Party on the flags issue so will there be a sense of


getting together to try to show a purposeful face to the public at


this? Absolutely, it has been a testing period for them and it will


continue to be a testing period because this issue is not flagging,


it is continuing. They will probably demonstrate that they have


been resolute and a united and they were defending their position on


designated days so that will feature, too, in what David Ford


has to say. There has been his attempt to put them in a Nutcracker


between the DUP and the UUP, trying to squeeze them and the longer term


strategy here is to try and iced Naomi Long from the seat so that


will figure in her speech. He is also going to celebrate, no doubt,


that is achievements both as hen as justice minister and that of his


colleague, Stephen Farry at employment and learning. We will


get some celebratory remarks. The centrepiece of his speech is likely


to be an attempt to apply it this particular fro they have consisted


with for so long and that is that it is time for Northern Ireland to


move away from a discreet, closed politics of identity, towards


recognition. It is a cross- community party and design to be


inclusive. It respects differences but it does not celebrate them to


the point where it simply becomes an either or politics in Northern


Ireland and that is why for every one document, this will be a


centrepiece on what he has to talk about today. Mark Devenport touched


on this matter of the new Unionist Party, that is something we might


explore because it is intriguing. Is it possible that that party


established by Basil McCrea and John McAllister, might begin to eat


into natural Alliance Party territory? David Ford was asked


about this and he said it was not possible to be a Liberal Unionist.


In his world, you're not a liberal. I don't buy that distinction, you


can be a liberal unionist. Liberalism means openness and


respect for difference. That is not a contradiction in terms. But


whether it will constitute a challenge is another matter. It is


small, the other party that has no name, it is imperfectly formed both


stop there was a document produced by Basil McCrea and John McAllister


earlier in the week but there was no detailed and I think they


probably have jumped too soon in the sense that they have not got a


considers platform or even a label under which to canvas and Campion.


It is very difficult to see that if Alliance has captured not so much


the centre ground in Northern Ireland politics but maybe for what


liberal-minded people is common ground, it will be difficult for


Basil McCrae and John McAllister to nudge into that territory. What I


thought was fascinating was that David Ford seemed to be suggesting


that people who are members of the Alliance Party and people who vote


for the Alliance Party are neither Unionist nor a nationalist, they


would suggest that they are neither but is it THAT there must be people


in that party who are comfortable to be Unionists and comfortable to


be nationalists? Absolutely, it has always prided itself on its ability


to transcend differences so there are bound to be people who are


nationalists and Unionists and also from the senses we know there is a


significant proportion of people in Northern Ireland who define


themselves as Northern Irish, they do not define themselves as either


unionist or nationalist and that growing number of people is clearly


an national target for the Alliance Party. It will be something of a


target for Basil McCrea and John McAllister also but when push comes


to shove, there are going to beat people in the Alliance Party who


will vote one way or the other four a border poll. Some people were


saying it is the weakness of the Alliance Party, it is neither fish


nor fowl but in fact on that issue, people in the Alliance Party will


bought one way or the other but it seems to be able to contain both.


We will hear more from you throughout the rest of the


programmes. Let's cross now to the conference hall where Naomi Long is


just finishing her address to the conference. The leader of the


Alliance Party, David Ford, should be about to make his keynote


address. He has been introduced by his deputy. He is asking for people


to take their seats and as soon as he steps up, we will hear what he


says. Thank you for your introduction and


for what you do representing as in Westminster. You could have had no


finer tribute than from Simon Hughes as someone who was in


Westminster for 27 years. Can I welcome you all to the


conference this morning. Welcome to those of you who suffered the


intimidation, the threats and the attacks of recent weeks, because


you have done what is right. Welcome and thank you to Naomi,


Michael, Judith and the East Belfast team. Welcome to the


Carrickfergus team who have also suffered significantly. And to the


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 51 seconds


Welcome to all of you who have been Reception area. These last three


months have certainly been a tough time for the alliance but I'm


absolutely sure that will be the stronger for it. Literally, we have


come through fire and not been found wanting. That strength is


recognised by the media and the number of commentators who are not


generally sympathetic. Are growing strength has been recognised by the


other parties. On I first became party leader what they used to call


the four main parties largely ignored us. Conference, they don't


ignore us now. So why did the DUP and the UUP deliver all those late


at an East Belfast targeting Naomi Long over the flag issue. She isn't


a councillor any longer. She isn't a councillor any longer because she


took East Belfast in the Westminster election, with the


largest swing in any constituency in the United Kingdom. That is why


Why did the DUP denied that there were responsible? When we put out


leaflets we always put the imprint published by Alliance because we're


not ashamed. Clearly the DUP was utterly ashamed of its actions. So


we shame that an elected DUP councillor claimed he worked for a


delivery company when he was caught on. So when Unionist politicians


say that those who raised the flags issued me to accept the


responsibility for what followed, they are right. They need to accept


their responsibility for what they did. They need to recognise what


happens when you stir up tension in a divided society and would you


cannot even bring herself to call for an end to end legal actions


without ambiguity. I believe that the past few months have taught us


a lot but those of us who are capable of learning will be able to


learn from them. We have learnt about this party, its strength and


resilience, its unity of purpose and that support for those of us


under attack. We have learnt about Northern Ireland, where we are as a


community and where we need to be. How fragile the rule of law can be.


We have seen the differences this - - between how our political parties


look at the future, and particularly a shared future. In


many respects, Northern Ireland is at an impasse with the DUP and Sinn


Fein avoiding the difficult issues, avoiding the difficult issue that


was the single quality build, slow progress on the RPA and ESA, no


sign of progress on parades or a language is built. India simply


failing to follow through and deliver. Worst of all, they had


made no progress from reaching agreement about a shared future.


And this must be the most pressing issue for Northern Ireland at this


time. Contrast the feeling nature of the executive, and look at what


can be achieved. And it was a real pleasure when Stephen Farry joined


me to sit beside me at the executive table. If nothing else


immense I could at least turn one way or pleasant conversation during


the meeting. Would any other minister of employment and learning


other than Stephen by a terse reducing barriers to labour


mobility as assured future issue? Would anybody else begin Treacher


training and toppled all the other work he has to do, on


apprenticeships come on skills for those with less qualifications?


Those are real issues that need to be addressed. It is the same and


the Department of Justice will be a reforming prisons, improving access


to justice, tackling legal aid and delivering the resources to police


service needs. Our committee safety strategy is distinctively Alliance,


about building safer shared confident communities. We have a


realistic targets to remove interface structures and we're


working on it, engaging with local people and we have seen real


progress in a number of areas, especially in North Belfast. We are


being held back socially, being denied the share future the people


deserve due to deadlock between Unionists and nationalists. The


five party working group on a shared future seemed destined to


produce a report that was merely and the lowest common denominator


between Unionism and nationalism. In the end, it didn't even achieve


that. After Chris Whittle withdrew, it merely register deadlock, leaked


paper showed that the group that failed to make any progress on key


issues such as flags and parades and dealing with the past. Let's


look at the flags issue as an example of how alliance than


Stephanie. Here was the perfect opportunity to deliver change. To


characterise and develop Belfast as a city of diversity were different


identities are respected and cherished. On opportunity that has


existed for years. We first proposed designated days a decade


ago. Sinn Fein and the SDLP approach the issue without any


regard for those who cherish the Unionist identity. The timing and a


Freeman of the debates was a we win, you use argument was that their


choosing. What of the Unionist parties? What was their motivation?


Compare Belfast with Lisburn, with Craigavon, Ballymoney were Unionist


dominated councils fly the Union flag on designated days. In Belfast,


there was a deliberate premeditated campaign to with attentions, to


generate fears of a loss of identity among those who perceive


themselves as having little left to give and to go after the Alliance


party and its elected representatives, especially to go


after Naomi Long he wasn't even involved and the debate just to win


votes. That is the long and short of that. All this has been about


winning votes in East Belfast. I don't agree with the decision by


Billy Hutchinson took the post designated days. But I do agree


with this description of the Unionist Party's handling of the


issue as a project, because it was a project to damage the alliance.


Is it any wonder that the parties of Unionism and nationalism have


reached stalemate in the working group? Two weeks ago I wrote to the


First Minister proposing a new approach that I believed could see


an effective shared future strategy. It is clear that the current


process involving parties only has stalled. Of the First Minister and


Deputy First Minister have managed to restart it, our fear is that it


would either end in deadlock or in an agreed strategy that avoids the


most difficult issues. That is why we have proposed a different


approach, one that is more open and inclusive but we believe will make


sure that the big issues are no longer docked. We have birds that


First Minister and Deputy First Minister to open up a share future


reference group with the political parties been joined by a


representatives of civic society. The responses at the first


ministers' attempts at this shared future strategy shows the level of


expertise that exist in our community. We need to use their


expertise to get it right. We cannot afford not to get it right.


I asked the First and Deputy First Minister has to publish the draft


strategy for a new shirt future reference group, to take evidence


from the public. It would make recommendations by June of this


year and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister would bring a


final strategy to do it executive after the summer. After 18 months


of private discussions the party's only approach had simply failed.


Given the importance of this issue, we believe the public has a right


to voice their opinion on the record in an open forum and the


response to my suggestion? And an accurate representation of this is


abdicating the responsibility of elected politicians and handed over


the process to outsiders. They couldn't see that a partnership


approach could actually help make progress, or maybe they could and


feared it. 19 years since the ceasefires, 15 years since the Good


Friday Agreement and after 10 years of devolved government no effective


strategy to move or community be on the ending of violence has been


produced. We simply have to get on with it. Let's remember, as if we


could ever forget, what has been happening on the streets recently.


Is there any clear demonstration of the need to build a shared future


for all citizens? The lives and livelihoods of so many are being


disrupted by minority. A minority hell bent on causing destruction


without any thought to the effects of their actions. Yet again, the


problems of the society are being played it on the streets and


putting enormous pressure on the police service. In my position I am


not going to second guess the difficult decisions that


operational commanders have to take in response to street disorder. I


know that there will be support in this hall and across the Community


for resolute action against those who continue to disrupt society,


including the resolute action being taken against those who have been


organising illegal street protests. I sincerely hope that those who


have taken part in a legal protest will recognise the damage they're


doing and call of those protests. If they don't, I hope there will be


united political boys supporting the PSNI as the deal those protests.


A united voice supporting the rule of lot, not the weasel words we


heard from Unionists. A united voice, not the complaints we hear


from nationalist try to put pressure on the police, including


talk yesterday political policing. There ought to be a united voice


supporting the rule of law from every party, but somehow I doubt it


because too many politicians and the society are unprepared to


support the pleas of it means confronting their own supporters.


Alliance politicians don't they can choose. We don't decide which was


toppled, which police action to support depending on whether they


are perceived to be for our side with the other side. Alliance has


always stood for the rule of law Of course, differences between


Unionists and nationalists on policing are mirrored by their


views and a shared future. The union this to mean some kind of


society where everyone is supposed to field Unionist, to accept what


Peter Robinson called the settle status quo with the Union flag


flies ever were 265 busy year with the Irish language received no


official recognition, with the terms the Queen's highway is


allowed to excludes a whole section of society. Or the Parades


Commission he supported only when it takes the right decisions for


Unionists. For nationalist a shared future seems to be at version of


Sheard parity of esteem. Were the public demand for integrated


education goes unheeded. Where are elected representatives will


forever have to be designated to turn out whether there us with them.


Or playgrounds convenient that to terrorists because it is only


national as children who play and then. For both sides it means deals


such as those Rusol over the barracks site, supported by both


the Unionist parties and the nationalist parties or


opportunities to radically develop integration was sacrificed on the


culture of one for my side, one for you aside politics. The very nature


of the politics that those parties espouse depends upon the


continuation of this kind of politics. They rely on the oldest -


- bit old -- the old traditions. They focus on proceeds threats to


their identity and culture. After 10 years of devolution we have to


accept that many communities haven't seen the progress that they


deserve. Too many kids are not doing well enough at school, too


few job opportunities. Is it any wonder the DUP and Sinn Fein rely


on sham fights to draw attention away from their failure to deliver


a effectively on the big issues that would really make addition --


make a difference to people's everyday lives? It seems to make --


it seems to sit unionism better to focus on flags rather than focus on


the fact that their children are leaving school without the


qualifications they need? For nationalists, maybe it is better to


think about a boarder Paul but will not realistically happen with the


foreseeable future rather than focusing on the fact that 43 % of


children going up and West Belfast are in poverty. Mike Nesbitt will


probably insist that by misrepresenting his party and


politics. He likes to portray himself as a moderate, yet he leads


He insisted that people always have and class and that people always


will be ancient green. This was a man who was elected leader because


of his ability to communicate a purpose for the UUP. From what I


have seen over the years, Mike Nesbitt has much experience from an


autocue but it is Peter Robinson he is writing his script! No doubt


there are those on board sides they will reject this description of


them, they see themselves as moderate Unionists or moderate


nationalists or even liberal versions. But I say to them, as


long as you are part of the problem, the problem will continue. To MLAs


are in the process of setting up another Unionist Party. I


acknowledge it is an attempt to move Unionism for it but it will


achieve nothing. Change will only happen when we build a strong


radical centre-ground in total contrast to both Unionism and


nationalism. Otherwise it seems this society goes on locked in this


old politics were either nothing happens for fear that one side will


get more than the other or a little it happens but only on the basis of


one for you, one for me. The old politics, the politics of the past


is like a millstone around the neck of the political system, holding us


back, preventing us from developing a politics are today and holding us


back from the future we want to create. To many of our politicians


allow the shadow of that past to present themselves from moving


forward, always holding on to the perceived security that comes from


the old labels. Only this party has been brave enough and bold enough


to make the leap, to free itself of that old politics to focus purely


on how to unite our committee through different politics. For


years, our politics was frozen as attempt after attempt to break the


deadlock over institutions that would bring an end to violence. 15


years after that deadlock was broken on Good Friday, we find


ourselves in a different deadlock, a political stalemate within the


institutions holding us back from the future that a committee


deserves. With the constitutional question effectively settled for


now by the agreement, this should have been a moment for maximum


transformation, an opportunity to take dramatic steps forward towards


a future that is very different from the past. To use the end of


violence to allow committees to be integrated. As recently written on


an Ulster Unionist blog, promises of new beginnings and dedicated to


the achievement of Torrance and Jenny Dawe Trust, all signed in a


spurt of Concorde, binding commitments were given, not only to


purely democratic and peaceful means but to oppose any use or


threat of force by others for any political purpose. Every signatory


pledged to work to ensure the success of each and every one of


the arrangements and signed up to complex but clear constitutional


arrangements. Yet despite this, the Executive so far has utterly failed


to face the need to make real progress towards a shared society


in which sectarianism, fear and threat along only in the past.


Politicians have worked to find a political settlement that allows


Northern Ireland to be governed but they feel to use it to prioritise


the building of a genuinely shared society. The longer we fail to do


so, the more our talk of building an economy becomes unrealistic and


delusional. The last few weeks events had shown that it can be put


off no longer. This is the challenge for us in the Alliance


Party this year he. To work to break this new form of deadlock,


the deadlock in which we will be stuck as long as the old politics


dominates, for all of us in public life who want a better, different


shared future for our community, the challenge is to break the


dominance of that and move to a new politics. We will not waste the


opportunities that have been given to us so we have to put ideas


forward the the people to see clearly and unambiguously. That is


why two years ago for the Assembly election, we published a manifesto,


probably the most comprehensive for a Northern Ireland election. A few


weeks ago, we published for everyone, we have set out policies


for every department that will help us build a shared future for all


our people. We went to see a shares and into go society, free from


intimidation and discrimination and fear, or every member is safe, has


Upper sureties to contribute and to participate, is treated fairly and


with respect, a civic society underpinned by the shared values of


equality, respect for diversity and a celebration of our


interdependence. For everyone sets out practical policies to deliver


that. I am a firm supporter of integrated education. We're not


suggesting it is the solution to all our problems but it is part of


the solution. Critics accuse of us of social engineering, pushing


children together against their parents will and the truth,


revealed this week in a poll in the Belfast Telegraph, a 79% of the


population would like to see their children at's school becoming


integrated. At school for everyone in the local community. The target


we have set of 20% of children in integrated schools by 2020 is


reasonable, practical and in line with the wishes of the large


majority. The problem of flags and parades are being played out on the


streets with serious effects on all of us yet they are just sentence of


what goes deeper so we have set out how we can make sure that all


public space is for all. Let us nail the lie before unionists


repeated any more, the Alliance Party respects everybody's right to


fly flags but nobody has the right to use flagpoles -- lamp-posts like


a dog barking out territory. Up -- at dog marking out his territory.


So we will work only make sure that planning policies take account of


shared future considerations and we set realistic targets and engage


with local communities to build the confidence that will see barriers


come down. The Executive has to recognise that the shared housing


strategy is now essential so we can meet real housing needs without


continuing segregation of. When his party was founded, the challenge


was their employment. The challenge for this generation is to build on


that achievement and build a shared future in every respect. We will


also press both governments to accept their role alongside other


parties in finding an inclusive way of dealing with the issues of the


past, not one that is with a few people but a comprehensive system


for everyone. Too often we have seen short-term decisions


satisfying one need at a time rather than dealing with problems


at a way that bills are long-term shared future. Make no mistake,


this is not Alliance wish-list as some people have claimed, this is


vitally important in our society is to prosper economically and


maximise our chances of investment as the UK emerges from the


recession. We will not attract the investment we need with local or


external unless we are seen to be creating conditions have shared


future that will allow us to maximise our economic opportunities.


The challenge for this generation, for the lifetime of the youngest


person in this room, is to break out of that cycle of short-term


actions, to find a way to break the stranglehold that the old politics


still has over this community's future, to fight a new political


battle, not the ancient and outdated Battle of Unionists purses


nationalists, between old politics and a new politics. Between a zero


sum politics and when when the politics. Between politics for our


side and politics for everyone. Let us be clear, Alliance is the force


by which we will do so, only a Mayans occupies the Shared Ground


where we will have to build a shared future. -- alliance.


Remember what President Kennedy said in the early 1960s about the


Apollo space programme, which used to do these things in this decade


not because they are easy but because they are hard. That goal


will serve to organise and measured the best of our energies and skills.


The challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are


unwilling to postpone and one which we intend to win. With an alliance,


we're the party that is clear about our committee's future and what it


could and should look like and how that could be achieved. We are the


party that is very clear about where our priority lies, but the


biggest single challenge facing our committee and its Executive is the


challenge of creating a genuinely shared future. We are the party


that is utterly committed to overcoming that challenge and


bridging the deadlock of the old politics. While other parties


continue to pursue old political agendas, generating and sustaining


stagnation and deadlock when in the face of that deadlock they retreat


back to their familiar obsession with identity and the constitution,


there will be no retreat by alliance. Let me remind you of


another statement of Hope by President Kennedy's Robert.


Speaking in set Africa, he said this - each time a man stands up


for an ideal or axe to improve a lot of others or strikes Out


Against injustice, he sense for a tiny ripple of hope and crossing


each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those


reports build at current that could sweep down the mightiest walls of


oppression and resistance. Alliance has come through the fire of recent


years, we have come through a particular fire in recent weeks, we


have been tested and we have not failed. In Northern Ireland, we are


at the change, that change that Robert Kennedy spoke of. We can


break down those walls, everyone of us is one of those ripples of which


he spoke. Youth and old members together, all our actions combine


to make waves that will sweep away those walls of prejudice and


intolerance. The momentum or continue to build, our movement for


change will grow at whatever is thrown at us, metaphorically and


literally, we will work relentlessly, we will strive for


change, we will lead changed and we will deliver change for the society.


We will create a new and better Northern Ireland based on a new and


better kind of politics. Our politics for everyone.


David Ford getting a standing ovation for his speech. I make it


about 31 minutes that he spoke for. That is his wife giving him a hug.


Stuart Dickson, Judith Cochrane from East Belfast. He makes his way


through the hall and I suppose it is no great surprise that he should


get enthusiastic response like this. He did not really pull any punches,


he was determined he was going to make that point that the Austrians


and Sinn Fein represent the past. He had a significant pop at Mike


Nesbitt. I don't know if you recall his speech, he was very backward


looking, very little that was progressive. David is basically


saying, the party has weathered the storm, we have been buffeted by


waves from within the Unionist parties so I suppose is no surprise


that he paid particular attention but in that respect there was


something of an unbalanced there because he named Peter Robinson and


Mike Nesbitt and even Billy Hutchison. There was no naming a


any nationalist politicians. don't think he mentioned the SDLP


at all. Only in passing. One probably needs to read into that


that this was an assault on the other major parties because they


are entrenched in either or policies and that really he was


saying, this is the party that will bridge the divisions so it can be


no surprise per instance that he picked out the Belfast Telegraph


poll this week that showed that four out of five adults are in


favour of integrated education. In that respect, the party is running


We will talk about shirt future again in a moment. He took a tough


line on the flags issue. He was crystal-clear. He reiterated today


that everything that happens as far as the Alliance party was treated


by other parties, particularly the DUP, was about targeting Naomi Long


to get that seed back for the DUP. That is the key motive, to unsteady


her, to unsettle the electorate. I am surprised that he didn't refer


to the Lib Dems holding their seed any sleep. They had a party that


was being assaulted from the left than the right, yet with good


organisation they held the seat. It may well be that if they have got


good organisation underground and East Belfast she can hold onto the


seat. Bets go back to the conference hall and hear from Mark


Devenport. You have a couple of guests. What did you make up what


David Ford had to say? The I thought it was a confident and


fairly logical speech in terms of his line of argument. He was going


to take That's Union flag dispute and they were built on that. In


terms of actual name checks, it was clear that most of his criticism


was directed at the Unionists. He did direct some you -- he did


direct some criticism at nationalists, Senedd Sidhu halt


they had no regard for the Ulster Unionists cherishing their own


identity. There was no name to assaults. The rhetoric was all


about Peter Robinson, Mike Nesbitt and so on. That probably has been


because whilst alliance would see themselves as being different from


both sides, the battlegrounds has been in areas like East Belfast,


Carrickfergus, in the Unionist areas or alliance was making such


large advances. Still, he you going to sample


opinion from? We have got one guest for you, but we are promised


another. This might be one of these bits of life TV or you see people


charging on on air. We will have Naomi Long in a minute, but here is


Stephen Farry. What did you think of what's was being said, whilst


there was criticism of other parties and how they went about it,


your main argument seems to be with the Unionists? Our main argument is


about building a shared future for everyone. There has been an attack


upon the party, a very personalised attack on Naomi Long. What we were


doing today and what David was setting out was a vision for the


future of Northern Ireland's. Talking about hope, aspiration,


giving young people a stake in the society. Integrated education,


shared space are the keys to delivering that. No doubt the


Unionists would say, they were various parts to this dispute in


Belfast and Sinn Fein had been pushed under what they had done the


Unionists would not have responded. The alliance seems to be pitched


all the criticism on the Unionists. What happened at Belfast City Hall


was a compromise from the alliance. We took what was a very balanced


measured approach in the interests of the entire community. The two


nationalist parties have the chance to buy into that kind of approach.


Unionist did not have that vision. They were shooting from the


trenches and got into a very destructive cycle. We are still


dealing with the consequences of that. Will come back to how you're


trying to the press with their shared future. Naomi Long has just


joined us. What did you make of your leader's speech? He had to


tackle the flags dispute, didn't he? We had no alternative to day


but to do that. I don't think his speech was even predominantly about


the flights dispute. A figure was about the exposure of that dispute


at the deep sectarian divisions that exist in our society and about


our response so bad in terms of wanting to build a more stable


society going forward. Unless we build that shared future we will


continue to go along this road with huge risk attached everything that


we do. We need to start getting the groundwork done out in order that


we don't hit another bomb than the road in six months' time. I don't


think that is fair on the family's thumb on the businesses and that is


not fair on the people who have fought for the future. Opposite


there have been developments. We do want to get into the business of


charges in the courts and so one cannot but it seems that there has


been more of a police crackdown. How is life for yourself, have been


settled down or is it still a constant threats? The threat hasn't


been removed so why have to live my life as if that threat is a live


issue. I have to be careful with my personal security. But is not what


drives me to get out of bed and the morning. That is building the


shared future. I am there to represent everyone in our community.


I was elected to do that in the full knowledge that Northern


Ireland politics can be very bruising. It doesn't make it


acceptable, but I understand that the Saudis. Things are not


completely died down, but at the same time we're try to find ways of


being resilient in terms of our practices so we continue to deliver


the service that my constituents deserve. The question that is still


out there is whether alliance can retain the East Belfast seed in the


future. You did enjoy a series of events, you got support within


loyalist areas, there was a backlash against Peter Robinson. Do


you think when you take out all the business of the morality of this,


is the electoral fact that there will be hard to retain its come the


next election? I was asked difficult questions in the run-up


to the last election about how alliance could win that seat. The


night duty is to represent my constituents in the capacity that I


have. It is to do that to the best of my ability. My election or not


that the next elections is a matter for my constituents. That is not


something that I can influence other than by my own hard work


about the work that the party does and by continuing to show integrity.


I will not get into the analysis of If decision in the City Hall good


effect things. The same people you're crying that the Alliance


party was going to be wiped out nowt said you're going to be wiped


out then. I ignore or those people and get on with doing my job.


Little Democrats introduced Naomi Long around employment tax. There


are a wide range of thing so we can do for our economy. But we don't


get Corporation Tax there are a lot of things that we can do. Building


a shared future is itself important to the economy. A law level of


corporation tax could make a big difference. That bike goes on. The


executive was not given up on not that gelled -- the executive has


not given up on that challenge and we will continue to lobby. We will


keep pushing. Stephen Farry, Naomi Long, banks are much for joining us.


There we must leave it. Thank you. The deputy leader of the


Liberal-Democrats, Simon Hughes, addressed a conference earlier


today. He praised Naomi Long for holding the line during a very


difficult time. Mark Devenport got up with them earlier this morning.


It has been very fraught for the Alliance party and we have felt for


Naomi Long. She has kept us fully informed. She has gone to a


terrible time, not just her better offers staff and colleagues. We are


grateful that her colleagues have been brave enough to hold the line.


And during the Ian Bell will be vindicated. My Member -- my message


to the wider audience in Northern Ireland if you don't win the


arguments by throwing stones. You win arguments by discussion. Of the


war audience probably wouldn't be aware of it, you have a personal


sense of what she has gone through because some years ago you got


involved in a gangland murder case and you were under death threats.


It is a hard road to travel, isn't it? You're right. I give evidence


in and encouraged other people to give evidence in a murder trial. I


knew it was the right thing to do. You have to make this political


judgments and they know how difficult the politics of Northern


Ireland has been. The rest of Britain are willing Northern


Ireland to come to the set of future that everybody would give


the potential to this country. Everybody understands that we have


the GAA it coming so it is a great shop window. We had the UK City of


Culture in Northern Ireland's here for the first time. The future is


really dudes, but it's requires double to show the best face of


Northern Ireland. Isn't that the case that the Liberal-Democrat have


been very hands-off when it comes to Northern Ireland. I don't think


that's the case. We have kept very strong links. We are in regular


discussion with John Aldred eyes, Naomi Long. She didn't sit in your


garden Westminster. She chose understandably that she retained


her independence as an opposition MP. The coalition deal was between


the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. There was no


necessity for her to join us. We do take their regular interest.


Stephen Lloyd ISTAR spokesperson on Northern Ireland. The one to make


sure that the Government is seen to be on the side of Northern


Ireland's every day. Be the interests of open as I should


disclose that you used to be my landlord, so you can confirm that I


am a good tenants. I will write you a reference if you need it! Thank


you very much. Mark Devenport introducing his


former landlord, there! Rick, it is amazing what these programmes can


throw up. Let's go back to David Ford's speech. Again, and attack


and the other parties, particularly Sinn Fein about the


misrepresentation office plans for civic involvement in trying to move


the process forward daughter shared future. Again, a very clear message


that he was sending out about the way in which he things other


politicians are having a go at the alliance. Indeed. He was castigated


for trying to delegate responsibility. We know that both


Sinn Fein and the DUP have done nothing to try... What the Alliance


party has been suggesting is that they need to re-engage,


particularly at the time when a lot of the electorate is not bothering


to turn out and vote. There is a real need to engage with civic


society. One way to do would be to try and embrace a shared future


strategy. Partnership is the big word for David Ford, isn't it?


Kiddies. Not just a set of partnerships within the executive,


will have -- but between the executive and the assembly. I think


he has at principal point about engaging in society. There is this


abortion amendment which will be a big issue for David Ford as the


Justice Minister. This is the attempt to add and a member to the


Criminal Justice Bill which is a very complicated piece of


legislation. There is this very late attempt to graft this on to


the bill. He is opposed to it because it is such an important


bill. Will be interesting to see if Sinn Fein supporter petition of