25/03/2017 Alliance Party Conference


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25/03/2017

Live coverage of the Alliance Party's annual conference, including keynote speech by party leader Naomi Long.


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Hello and welcome to the conference. Alliance Party members are gathered

:00:16.:00:22.

in an East Belfast hotel this lunch time, buoyed after a good result in

:00:23.:00:26.

the recent snap Assembly election. This year, they have a new leader in

:00:27.:00:33.

Naomi Long. She will give her speech shortly where viewers can enjoy it

:00:34.:00:37.

here in full along with viewers across the UK on the Parliament

:00:38.:00:40.

channel. Now the former executive minister Stephen Farry is addressing

:00:41.:00:46.

delegates. In the last conference a year ago, members were preparing for

:00:47.:00:49.

a scheduled Assembly election. Since then, there have been two with the

:00:50.:00:54.

possibility of a third now looming. Shortly, we'll have a word with our

:00:55.:01:00.

political editor at the conference. Let's hear from Professor Rick

:01:01.:01:03.

Wilford in the studio. Welcome to you. A big day for Naomi Long. It

:01:04.:01:11.

is, first conference speech as party leader. She's coming out in a

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difficult context given the state of the talks and the continuing anxiety

:01:16.:01:19.

about whether or not there'll be an agreement come Monday lunch time,

:01:20.:01:23.

more or less. But she's coming out of an election where the Alliance

:01:24.:01:28.

Party fared rather well. First preference vote went up 50%. Vote

:01:29.:01:32.

share slightly over 2%. They retained each of their seats. For

:01:33.:01:36.

her, she's coming at this conference with some real confidence and with

:01:37.:01:41.

some buoyancy I think in her attitude and her views. She's going

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to have to grapple with what's going on at Stormont House at the moment

:01:49.:01:51.

in relation to the talks. I don't expect her to be indiscreet at all,

:01:52.:01:55.

no doubt she will emphasise the scale of the task which confronts

:01:56.:02:01.

all the parties. Do you think the death of Sinn Fein's Martin

:02:02.:02:04.

McGuinness will cast any kind of shadow over proceedings at all? I

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think politicians increasingly are going to feel the loss of Martin

:02:10.:02:13.

McGuinness. Whatever else he was, he was in relation to politics here

:02:14.:02:18.

something of a pragmatist. The lack of that pragmatism on the part of

:02:19.:02:22.

Sinn Fein may be absent from these talks and when Gerry Adams said a

:02:23.:02:26.

day or so ago that the deadline was Monday, there would be no extension,

:02:27.:02:30.

I'm not sure whether that would have been the case if Martin McGuinness

:02:31.:02:34.

had been still with us. Is it a shadow? Well, it makes things

:02:35.:02:40.

difficult, but nevertheless, the tonal mood seemed to have lifted as

:02:41.:02:46.

a consequence of Arlene Foster and Simon Hamilton's attendance at

:02:47.:02:49.

McGuinness' funeral on Thursday. Whether that will have an effect on

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the outcomes of the talks, I think is very doubtful. That was a mood

:02:54.:02:57.

and political moods pass rather quickly. The one advantage that,

:02:58.:03:06.

it's difficult to talk about it in those terms, that McGuinness'

:03:07.:03:10.

passing has had, is that we know he was raterly committed to making

:03:11.:03:14.

devolution work and making the peace process as safe as he possibly

:03:15.:03:18.

could. In that sense his legacy, though he was responsible for

:03:19.:03:22.

bringing the Assembly down by resigning as Deputy First Minister,

:03:23.:03:26.

perhaps his enduring legacy is one that actually helps maybe to put the

:03:27.:03:31.

House back together again. Just a brief question before we hear from

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Mark Devonport. The party could have a big decision to take if the

:03:38.:03:40.

devolution project gets up and running again, whether or not to

:03:41.:03:43.

take the Justice Ministerery, if it's offered. They don't need to -

:03:44.:03:48.

well, if it's offered yes. They're eligible both for the executive on

:03:49.:03:53.

the strength of their seats for the last pick. They get the last pick.

:03:54.:04:00.

They're eligible for a rolling official opposition. They have a

:04:01.:04:03.

strategic decision to make. They have their own red lines, the

:04:04.:04:08.

Alliance Party, whether they can be met amongst the other red lines

:04:09.:04:12.

which are cluttering the pages of the negotiations, we'll have to wait

:04:13.:04:16.

and see. It is a big choice. My suspicious would be alliance like

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the Ulster Unionists and SDLP, if devolution is up and running,

:04:23.:04:26.

they'll take their seats. Naomi long is in the conference hall, waiting

:04:27.:04:31.

to be introduced by her party colleague, Stephen Farry, who served

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in the executive. We're waiting for her to be introduced. While we wait

:04:39.:04:43.

for that to happen, I suppose, interesting to think about the

:04:44.:04:49.

prospect for Stephen Farry. He could be the nominee in the Alliance

:04:50.:04:53.

Party. Naomi Long has made it clear she doesn't want a ministerial post.

:04:54.:04:57.

Exactly. If we get an executive I think he's a shoe in as Justice

:04:58.:05:01.

Minister. A lot of people would say that's fair enough because he was a

:05:02.:05:05.

competent minister. He was. Not least because you taught him!

:05:06.:05:13.

Absolutely, everything he knows! But David Ford is not going to come back

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and take up the role. He's the only choice, Stephen Farry. Naomi by

:05:19.:05:21.

training and occupation is an engineer. She's set her faith on

:05:22.:05:27.

trying to develop the party and engineer its future in terms of

:05:28.:05:30.

reaching out, particularly beyond its more comfortable base in the

:05:31.:05:34.

east of the province. They did have some success in extending their

:05:35.:05:37.

reach to the west at the recent elections. No, she's going to focus

:05:38.:05:43.

on rat Issing and developing the party and its base and its

:05:44.:05:46.

performance at the next scheduled elections, which are in 2019, the

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local Government elections. We won't be having European elections that

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year because we will be out of the European Union by then. She's not

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going to take a back seat. She will be very prominent. She is their key

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player, great speaker, great vocabulary and a colourful character

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too, not least because of her hair, I suppose. She's going to focus on

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developing and building the party. They've got a good spring board to

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work from, given their performance just a few weeks ago. Right, I

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gather that Stephen Farry is, we think, coming to the end of his

:06:22.:06:25.

comments. He's been giving one of the key note speeches at the

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conference this morning. We think he's practically at the end of that.

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He will be introducing Stephen Farry. Because it is her first

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conference speech as leader and because she is a very popular person

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within the party, that she will get a very warm reception. Utterly. No

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doubt she's going to pay considerable thanks to David Ford,

:06:48.:06:51.

her predecessor, who was there for ten years, I think, more? No, ten

:06:52.:06:55.

years as leader. I think there's going to be a lot of thanks for the

:06:56.:07:00.

party work during the course of the campaign. That's where we begin. OK,

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well there is Naomi Long, entering the hall proper now. Being embraced,

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well half embraced there from her husband Michael Long, who is a

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Belfast City counsellor. She's making her way to the platform.

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She'll shake hands with Stephen Farry, the Deputy Leader. She's

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getting her papers in order. Lots of photographs. I see Anna Lowe, the

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president of the party, former South Belfast MLA applauding warmly.

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Cameras clicking and whirring. She's just steeling herself to address the

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conference. Let's hear what she has to say. This is live coverage of

:07:44.:07:49.

Naomi Long's first speech to the Alliance Party conference.

:07:50.:07:55.

Thank you conference. Madam president, distinguished guests,

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fellow delegates, ladies and gentleman, friends, before I start

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my formal speech, I would like to add my own personal condolences and

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also my solidarity to the minute's silence which we held here this

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morning at conference, for those affected by the tragic events in

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London earlier this week. When I was an MP, I regularly entered

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Parliament through Carriage Gates. I regularly spoke with the officers

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there, who stood between us and where the thin blue line that

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protected not just individuals but democracy from attack. I was hugely

:08:35.:08:39.

endebted to them at times for their cooperation and assistance with my

:08:40.:08:44.

own security. I want to send them in particular my thoughts and prayers

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on the loss of their colleagues. As always, conference, it is an honour

:08:52.:08:54.

and privilege to stand before you today and address conference. It's a

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particular privilege, I have to say, and a pleasure to do it in East

:08:59.:09:04.

Belfast. It also feels a little strange after ten years of doing so

:09:05.:09:09.

to introduce the party leader to now be standing here as the party

:09:10.:09:13.

leader. After almost six months in post, I'm finally adjusting to my

:09:14.:09:16.

new role and new title, though it did take a while. In the early weeks

:09:17.:09:21.

of leadership I prerecorded an interview and then promptly forgot

:09:22.:09:25.

about it. When I put the radio on the following morning, they said,

:09:26.:09:28.

we're going to be speaking to the Alliance Party leader and for a

:09:29.:09:32.

second, I wonder what David was at this time.

:09:33.:09:34.

LAUGHTER Whilst we have had other

:09:35.:09:37.

opportunities to say thank you as a party to David, I do want to take

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this opportunity to reiterate my thanks here at conference. Not only,

:09:43.:09:45.

David, for what you've done for the Alliance Party and Northern Ireland

:09:46.:09:48.

as a whole during that time, but also for the way that you've done

:09:49.:09:52.

it. Often at great personal cost but always with grace and dedication.

:09:53.:09:56.

When I spoke of David's leadership at our dinner in November to mark

:09:57.:10:00.

his time as party leader, I said leadership is not just a position

:10:01.:10:03.

that you hold but an attitude that you have. And that has proven yet

:10:04.:10:07.

again to be the case with David. Over the last number of months, I've

:10:08.:10:13.

taken to calling jokily David our leader emeritus. Though I say that

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in jest, I think it is a good title for to call him a former leader

:10:19.:10:22.

would diminish the role that he serves within this party. I think it

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speaks volumes of David's commitment to Alliance, that unlike many

:10:29.:10:31.

politicians, when their time and leadership ends, he has neither

:10:32.:10:35.

disappeared, nor become a critic nor a passenger but has continued to

:10:36.:10:41.

play a valuable role as an mla and within the leadership team of

:10:42.:10:43.

alliance and for that continued support and guidance I am hugely

:10:44.:10:46.

grateful. APPLAUSE

:10:47.:11:03.

Of course, behind every good man is a good woman. So I also want to

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extend my thanks to Ann and to the family. We owe them a huge debt not

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just for David's 15 years but for them continuing to put up with the

:11:16.:11:18.

demands we make of his time now, when I think they were hoping they

:11:19.:11:21.

would get him back for a while. When I took on the leadership, about five

:11:22.:11:25.

months ago, I undertook a number of things, key amongst which for me was

:11:26.:11:29.

to build the party and its membership outside our traditional

:11:30.:11:31.

areas of strength. I did so with a view to the next elections, which I

:11:32.:11:36.

rather optimistically thought would be local government 2019. As we all

:11:37.:11:40.

now know that optimism was misplaced. However the strategy was

:11:41.:11:44.

not. I have always believed that the vision which we have as a party for

:11:45.:11:48.

an inclusive, open and fair society is one which is as relevant to

:11:49.:11:55.

people on one end of the country to the other. And the response to our

:11:56.:11:58.

membership drive confirms that is the case. That work of reaching out

:11:59.:12:04.

beyond our traditional base, renewing and invigorating local

:12:05.:12:06.

associations right across Northern Ireland was reflected in membership

:12:07.:12:10.

growth in every constituency. One of the best jobs you get to do as

:12:11.:12:14.

leader is to sign new leaders welcome letters and to see not just

:12:15.:12:18.

the number of letters each day, but the geographic spread of those

:12:19.:12:22.

addresses has been a real encouragement, as was meeting many

:12:23.:12:25.

new members as they toured Stormont earlier this year. For those of you

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who are with us at your first conference today as new members, you

:12:31.:12:33.

are very welcome and we appreciate your support. That strategy was also

:12:34.:12:38.

put to its first electoral test with the collapse of the Assembly in

:12:39.:12:42.

January and the snap elections which it triggered. At a time when there

:12:43.:12:47.

has been little good news for liberal politics, nationally or

:12:48.:12:51.

internationally, and an election which was itself incredibly

:12:52.:12:54.

polarised, we bucked the trend, polling our highest number of votes

:12:55.:12:59.

since 1979 and our highest vote share since 1987. Over 70,000 people

:13:00.:13:05.

voted Alliance across Northern Ireland, a 50% increase in our vote.

:13:06.:13:09.

In many constituencies our vote doubled or trebled from the last

:13:10.:13:12.

election only eight months before. Not only did we hold our eight seats

:13:13.:13:19.

more securely, but we were runner up in both north Belfast and in south

:13:20.:13:24.

down. APPLAUSE

:13:25.:13:34.

I think that success was down to two main factors, the quality of our

:13:35.:13:42.

campaign and the quality of the candidates. Thanks to recruitment

:13:43.:13:45.

and growth in the party, we were able to field candidates in every

:13:46.:13:50.

area, who were genuinely grounded in their constituency, capable not only

:13:51.:13:53.

of representing Alliance to the people, but also of representing the

:13:54.:13:56.

concerns of local people in our campaign. I want to thank each of

:13:57.:14:00.

you who had the courage to step up and run as a candidate. Whilst many

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of you did so knowing you were unlikely to win a seat this time,

:14:06.:14:10.

you still worked your constituency and took the Alliance message into

:14:11.:14:14.

neighbourhoods which had not been canvassed for a generation. Without

:14:15.:14:17.

your efforts we couldn't have achieved the results we did. You

:14:18.:14:21.

have recruited new voters and members and you are well placed for

:14:22.:14:25.

potential gains in local council elections. My advice to you is

:14:26.:14:29.

simple - work like you won and next time you will.

:14:30.:14:34.

APPLAUSE The only other advice I have for you

:14:35.:14:47.

is - keep your diaries free. As I did my tours of constituencies each

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Saturday of the campaign, I was struck by two things. Firstly, the

:14:52.:14:56.

enthusiasm and dedication of our volunteers, who regardless of

:14:57.:14:59.

weather were determined to get the message out in every area. And

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secondly, the welcome that message received as we chatted to people on

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doorsteps and in town centres right across Northern Ireland. I want to

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thank all of you who participated in the campaign and gave your time,

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your talent and your money to make it a success. I was also struck by a

:15:16.:15:22.

third thing. My dog, Daisy, is officially a celebrity now, thanks

:15:23.:15:25.

to social media, television and newspapers. I have a sneaking

:15:26.:15:28.

suspicion that some of the people who came to chat with us, were more

:15:29.:15:32.

interested in getting selfies with Daisy, than they were in discussing

:15:33.:15:36.

the finer detail of policy. And that was only the candidates.

:15:37.:15:39.

LAUGHTER I want to say a very brief but

:15:40.:15:44.

sincere thank you to our staff team, for any party to run two major

:15:45.:15:48.

elections in eight months and to do so not just at short notice and to

:15:49.:15:53.

tight deadlines, but to deliver the successful campaign and results

:15:54.:15:56.

which they did, I think it's remarkable. What is more remarkable,

:15:57.:16:00.

is that they deliver it on a shoe string budget. That they also

:16:01.:16:05.

managed to simultaneously provide us with support for the talks, organise

:16:06.:16:09.

our annual conference for that weekend and keep the party ticking

:16:10.:16:11.

over is nothing short of miraculous. APPLAUSE

:16:12.:16:27.

To Sharon, Debbie, Sam, Noula, Connie, Ben, Scott, Michael and

:16:28.:16:31.

Lauren, thank you for all you do, most of which goes unseen, but all

:16:32.:16:36.

of which is appreciated. To our constituency and research staff who

:16:37.:16:40.

absorbed the upheaval, disruption and stress of setting up offices

:16:41.:16:43.

after the May election only to have the future thrown into disarray

:16:44.:16:47.

eight months later, but who have continued to provide the vital

:16:48.:16:50.

constituency services on which our success rests, thank you for your

:16:51.:16:55.

patience and dedication. Whilst we were delighted at the election

:16:56.:16:57.

result, we never lost sight of the fact that the election in itself was

:16:58.:17:02.

the result a political failure and unless the difficulties which

:17:03.:17:05.

brought about that collapse can be resolved, then the future for

:17:06.:17:11.

devolution is bleak. Whilst it was a successful election for alliance,

:17:12.:17:14.

the mark of a truly successful election for us and for Northern

:17:15.:17:18.

Ireland will be if the devolved institutions can be reformed and

:17:19.:17:22.

power sharing restored on a more sustainable footing and we can start

:17:23.:17:24.

the job of delivering real change for the people. Regardless of the

:17:25.:17:29.

size of the mandate of any party, it is not worth the ballot papers on

:17:30.:17:34.

which it is written, unless you can exercise it by working together with

:17:35.:17:38.

others. That is the challenge we all face now and that will be the

:17:39.:17:42.

challenge that we mains if the current talks fail to produce an

:17:43.:17:45.

executive on Monday and another election is called. Bertie Ahern

:17:46.:17:50.

described the prospect of another election as pointless time wasting.

:17:51.:17:54.

It undoubtedly is. We will return to Stormont as we have after this

:17:55.:17:58.

month's election with mostly the same parties, the same people and

:17:59.:18:03.

the same problems. However, I think it's more serious than just a waste

:18:04.:18:08.

of time. We are days away from the end of the financial year, yet we

:18:09.:18:12.

have no budget. We are days away from the triggering of the Brexit,

:18:13.:18:19.

yet we have no Brexit plan. We are already overdue the Assembly vote

:18:20.:18:22.

required for the regional rate, yet we have no Assembly. We have no

:18:23.:18:28.

programme for Government, in fact we have no Government. This is no time

:18:29.:18:33.

for any party to indulge themselves in a vanity project that is another

:18:34.:18:38.

election. Our community and voluntary sector are essential

:18:39.:18:43.

public services, like health and education, are already feeling the

:18:44.:18:49.

dire consequences of those who on budget uncertainty and reduce

:18:50.:18:53.

services and job losses. We owe it to though who rely on those services

:18:54.:18:58.

and who deliver them to get a functional executive established now

:18:59.:19:01.

and get on with the job we were elected to do.

:19:02.:19:05.

Whilst the collapse of the executive was disappointing, it was also

:19:06.:19:24.

predictable. We realised that significant reform was required to

:19:25.:19:27.

make it fit for purpose. When we entered negotiations in May about

:19:28.:19:30.

the Justice Ministerery, we were clear about the failings of the

:19:31.:19:35.

previous mandate and we offered five clear steps that would make progress

:19:36.:19:40.

towards that reform. Firstly, we wanted to address deficiencies in

:19:41.:19:43.

governance, particularly the abuse of the petition of concern. In order

:19:44.:19:48.

not only that we could end the veto on socially progressive legislation,

:19:49.:19:51.

for which there is overwhelming public support, but also that we can

:19:52.:19:57.

ensure that no one party could recklessly skier size a veto over

:19:58.:20:01.

others. The reform is long overdew. The failure of political parties to

:20:02.:20:08.

confront legacy issues including ongoing paramilitarism in our

:20:09.:20:13.

society was a point of tension. More importantly to improve the lives of

:20:14.:20:17.

those living with its consequences. Thirdly, we recognised there was a

:20:18.:20:20.

need for parties to face up and address the costs of segregation and

:20:21.:20:24.

division in society. In order to allow us to build a more sure and

:20:25.:20:28.

integrated society but also as part of the means of addressing the real

:20:29.:20:32.

budget pressures facing departments and to put our public finances on a

:20:33.:20:36.

sustainable footing. Fourthly, we sought a plan to develop and promote

:20:37.:20:39.

integrated education in Northern Ireland as a means of delivering not

:20:40.:20:43.

only high quality, sustainable education, but also as a means of

:20:44.:20:48.

meeting the demands of parents for their children to be educated

:20:49.:20:53.

together and for society to be healed. Fifth, we wanted to secure

:20:54.:20:59.

additional funding for skills, not only could tuition fees be

:21:00.:21:04.

maintained at the current level, without a negative impact on the

:21:05.:21:06.

competitiveness of our universities, but to attract the high skilled jobs

:21:07.:21:10.

and opportunities which we believe are necessary if we're going to

:21:11.:21:13.

create a dynamic and balanced economy. The outright rejection of

:21:14.:21:18.

our five points confirmed for us that any executive formed would not

:21:19.:21:22.

only fail to address those key emerging challenges for the

:21:23.:21:26.

community, and for devolution, but in the manner of that rejection, in

:21:27.:21:30.

the high handed approach, we believed it would also potentially

:21:31.:21:34.

struggle to deliver anything at all. As such it was not an executive of

:21:35.:21:39.

which we could be part. The decision to go into opposition was not

:21:40.:21:42.

without risk. But within months I think our position was vindicated

:21:43.:21:47.

and within eight months the very issues which we raised contributed

:21:48.:21:51.

to the executive's collapse. Whether in government or in opposition, we

:21:52.:21:57.

are here to drive change for good. That means firstly good government.

:21:58.:22:02.

As I prepare my conference speech each year I usually read through

:22:03.:22:06.

speeches from the year before. When I addressed conference last year and

:22:07.:22:10.

in almost every year before, I did so in the wake of scandal. Some

:22:11.:22:14.

accusation of corruption, cronyism or growed at the heart of the

:22:15.:22:20.

political system, whether an expenses scandal rbgs dodgy land

:22:21.:22:25.

dealeds, an allegation that cast a shadow of doubt. Last year we had an

:22:26.:22:33.

expenses scandal at appreciate allegations into Nama. This year the

:22:34.:22:37.

whiff of corruption and cronyism became intolerable as further

:22:38.:22:42.

allegations emerged about the social investment fund, public money, our

:22:43.:22:46.

money, being used to line the pockets of those who the Chief

:22:47.:22:49.

Constable described as community workers by day and paramilitaries by

:22:50.:22:55.

night. That a self-proclaimed commander, who brazenly claims to be

:22:56.:22:59.

Homeland Security, a direct challenge to the rule of law, can

:23:00.:23:03.

continue as chief executive of an organisation which is in receipt of

:23:04.:23:10.

government funds would be completely unthinkable elsewhere.

:23:11.:23:19.

APPLAUSE It is long past time that it was

:23:20.:23:33.

completely unthinkable here. And we stand here today without an Assembly

:23:34.:23:36.

in place and with the future of devolution uncertain, in large part,

:23:37.:23:41.

due to another scandal. That of the botched renewable heat incentive.

:23:42.:23:44.

And of the inability of the executive to deal moo churl,

:23:45.:23:50.

competently and transparently with the crisis that precipitated. I want

:23:51.:23:55.

to pay tribute to the work of Trevor Lund as a member of the Public

:23:56.:23:59.

Accounts Committee, diligently, patiently draw out key information,

:24:00.:24:04.

exposing the flaws in the scheme, the inconsistencies in the accounts

:24:05.:24:07.

and in how it was developed, implemented and monitored. The murky

:24:08.:24:12.

influence of special advisors, who in some parties ah, peer to be

:24:13.:24:16.

directing ministers rather than the other way round, the attempts to

:24:17.:24:19.

conceal from public scrutiny the beneficiaries of the scheme. The

:24:20.:24:22.

fact that even when the impact of the lack of cost controls had

:24:23.:24:26.

implications for the budgets of other departments, the extent of the

:24:27.:24:31.

projected overspend were hidden from executive colleagues. The lack of

:24:32.:24:34.

full disclosure to the Assembly about the real reasons for the

:24:35.:24:39.

overspend, all exposed as systemic failure in government. That was

:24:40.:24:44.

compounded by the fact that those who presided over the mess seemed

:24:45.:24:49.

happy to take power but not so happy to accept any responsibility. This

:24:50.:24:54.

episode highlights to us all the need for real change in how the

:24:55.:24:58.

executive conducts its business, in terms of openness and

:24:59.:25:01.

accountability. It seems that history keeps repeating itself but

:25:02.:25:05.

yet nothing is learned, nothing changes except that the whiff of

:25:06.:25:09.

corruption is rapidly becoming a stench, which hangs heavily over the

:25:10.:25:13.

guilty and innocent alike, and with every fresh revelation, every new

:25:14.:25:17.

allegation, the public's trust and confidence in politics and

:25:18.:25:20.

politicians is further eroded. Nowhere is that more clear than in

:25:21.:25:25.

the area of political donations. Year after year we have pressed for

:25:26.:25:30.

change for swift progress towards open and transparent politics. Year

:25:31.:25:34.

after year, other parties have sought to prevent it. In doing so,

:25:35.:25:39.

they further fuel the public's mistrust and suspicion. Public

:25:40.:25:43.

scrutiny is critical to delivering open, transparent and accountability

:25:44.:25:49.

governance. No politician should seek to pause progress towards

:25:50.:25:53.

delivering it and the public will rightly question the Potives of

:25:54.:26:02.

those who do. -- motives. In every other part of the UK, publication of

:26:03.:26:08.

any donation or donations from a single source over ?7,500 is

:26:09.:26:12.

mandatory. Northern Ireland is exempt on the basis of security.

:26:13.:26:16.

However, the time has long since passed where our security situation

:26:17.:26:20.

can be used to justify such a lack of transparency. You cannot argue on

:26:21.:26:24.

one hand that Northern Ireland is a safe and stable region for inward

:26:25.:26:28.

investment and tourism, whilst arguing on the other that it is so

:26:29.:26:33.

abnormal, so dangerous that the degree of transparency around donors

:26:34.:26:34.

can't apply here as elsewhere. APPLAUSE

:26:35.:26:52.

Despite prolonged and sustained assaults by both disdant Republicans

:26:53.:26:56.

and Loyalist paramilitaries on Alliance we continued to publish in

:26:57.:26:59.

line with the standards in the rest of the UK. Alliance called in the

:27:00.:27:05.

Secretary of State to end donor secrecy when we wrote to him in

:27:06.:27:09.

December. We continue to make that case in the talks process for an

:27:10.:27:13.

immediate lifting of the donor publication exemption. Thanks to an

:27:14.:27:17.

amendment can I made to the Northern Ireland miscellaneous provisions act

:27:18.:27:22.

at Westminster, all donations since January 2014, which reached the

:27:23.:27:25.

publication threshold, can be made public once that security exemption

:27:26.:27:29.

is lifted. Yet even now in the current talks, there are attempts to

:27:30.:27:33.

limit any change to future donations only. We have been and will continue

:27:34.:27:41.

to press hard on openness, transparency and accountability

:27:42.:27:44.

between ministers and the executive, between the executive and the

:27:45.:27:48.

Assembly and crucially, between political parties and the public we

:27:49.:27:53.

are elected to serve. We have an opportunity to deliver good

:27:54.:27:55.

government during the current talks process. We must not squander it. We

:27:56.:28:01.

also remain focussed on delivering good services. For those of you at

:28:02.:28:07.

the dinner last night, I'm sure you will recall Tom Aitken's speech. I

:28:08.:28:11.

suspect some of you might never forget it. When he said the

:28:12.:28:16.

relationships between parties are to improve and normalise the executive

:28:17.:28:20.

and Assembly will regain the confidence of the public they need

:28:21.:28:23.

to start doing things. They need to focus on delivery. That is all the

:28:24.:28:27.

more the case given the pressures which our key public services face.

:28:28.:28:30.

Our Health Service is facing a funding gap of ?200 million this

:28:31.:28:34.

year alone. And the combination of increasing pressures from an ageing

:28:35.:28:39.

population and advances in medical care make the future grave. Last

:28:40.:28:44.

night David Gordon said if you could read a report and not wake up in a

:28:45.:28:50.

sweat in the night, you were a braver person than he. It makes for

:28:51.:28:54.

stark reading. The National Health Service is not sustainable without

:28:55.:29:01.

major reform. I want to thank Paula Bradshaw for her sensible approach

:29:02.:29:06.

for the need for reform. I believe as she does there are challenges for

:29:07.:29:10.

the Health Service and such is the fundamental importance to every one

:29:11.:29:14.

of us we need a cross-party compact agreed as part of the negotiations.

:29:15.:29:17.

The party political campaigning on health reforms, regardless of who

:29:18.:29:21.

becomes Health Minister, is simply out-of-bounds much we need all

:29:22.:29:26.

parties to sign up to the road map presented and work with patients and

:29:27.:29:29.

dlinical staff to shape a service fit for purpose for the future,

:29:30.:29:35.

which delivers high quality care and is financially sustainable. That

:29:36.:29:39.

cross-party approach has allowed real progress in places like

:29:40.:29:42.

Manchester and Glasgow. Our constituents deserve no less.

:29:43.:29:46.

Yes, the decisions will be difficult and some will be unpopular, but our

:29:47.:30:04.

choice is not between the current service and a reformed service. Our

:30:05.:30:08.

choice is between a reformed service and no service at all. The choice is

:30:09.:30:14.

between an national health service and a notional helper service.

:30:15.:30:19.

Whilst health is stark it is not the only server facing mounting

:30:20.:30:24.

pressures, we also pays huge challenges in education, the

:30:25.:30:28.

challenge of empty desks, lack of coherent planning and the continuing

:30:29.:30:31.

planning of educational underachievement. I want to thank

:30:32.:30:39.

Chris Little for the work he has done is vice-chair of the education

:30:40.:30:44.

committee in holding the Minister to account, but also in East Belfast

:30:45.:30:47.

but he has been one of the drivers in the East Belfast learning

:30:48.:30:54.

partnership, aimed at driving up entertainment particularly in

:30:55.:30:57.

disadvantaged areas. As an executive we need to focus on fostering good

:30:58.:31:01.

religion chips, not just between parties in the Assembly but also in

:31:02.:31:06.

the wider community. I think most people would recognise that whilst

:31:07.:31:10.

the peace process has delivered relative stability, the

:31:11.:31:14.

reconciliation process has long been this Cinderella element of the work.

:31:15.:31:25.

APPLAUSE. This is real flu, not man flu!

:31:26.:31:35.

APPLAUSE. We recognise the value of integrated education, not just in

:31:36.:31:39.

terms of the efficiency of deliberate but also in terms of the

:31:40.:31:42.

challenge that it makes to prejudice and in height helps build them

:31:43.:31:47.

foster better relationships throughout our community. I am

:31:48.:31:49.

hugely indebted to Kelley Armstrong put the work she has already

:31:50.:31:55.

completed on her proposed bill to support integrated education and to

:31:56.:31:58.

reform the mechanisms for transformation.

:31:59.:32:09.

APPLAUSE. Kellie Armstrong has taken her bill

:32:10.:32:13.

already through public consultation and I hope and trust that when the

:32:14.:32:17.

executive is up and running we get the opportunity to debate that

:32:18.:32:20.

legislation and to see it become law. We need more than just good

:32:21.:32:26.

government and good relationships and good services, we need good

:32:27.:32:29.

prospects for our young people if we are to build a better future and if

:32:30.:32:34.

they are to see their future here with us making a contribution to

:32:35.:32:36.

this community rather than elsewhere. Part of that is the work

:32:37.:32:41.

that Stephen has been big -- doing in the Department of the economy but

:32:42.:32:46.

also his work on Brexit because many young people the notion of us

:32:47.:32:49.

becoming an inward looking society is not want that will tempt them to

:32:50.:32:55.

remain. When it comes to it chews up skills and skills development it is

:32:56.:32:59.

hugely important that we equip our young people that the talents and

:33:00.:33:03.

abilities and we guide them towards the right career choices so they are

:33:04.:33:07.

able to help our economy flourish, but also to realise their own

:33:08.:33:10.

aspirations without having to leave Northern Ireland. I also want to

:33:11.:33:16.

thank Stuart for the work he has done on social value legislation,

:33:17.:33:21.

recognising the important role of the third sector in delivering

:33:22.:33:25.

economic change. When I was at the young People's debate there were 40

:33:26.:33:30.

young people in the room and they asked them how many of them saw

:33:31.:33:35.

their future in Northern Ireland. Only five or six of them said that

:33:36.:33:40.

they saw it here. The issue is not just about skills, it is about the

:33:41.:33:46.

nature of the society that we create in Northern Ireland. Young people

:33:47.:33:51.

will go away to university, go away and have experiences elsewhere and

:33:52.:33:54.

that is a positive thing if they want to come back, but often what

:33:55.:33:58.

they get is a flavour of a society that is more liberal, more tolerant,

:33:59.:34:03.

more open and they don't want to return to a society where people in

:34:04.:34:08.

politics dictate who they can marry and when they can buy a drink over

:34:09.:34:12.

the weekend of Easter. They want to make those choices for themselves.

:34:13.:34:17.

We need to change Northern Ireland society into the kind of society

:34:18.:34:23.

when they are empowered to do that. APPLAUSE.

:34:24.:34:35.

That project also requires good leadership. There has been much talk

:34:36.:34:45.

for very obvious reasons over recent days about what leadership looks

:34:46.:34:49.

like. The passing of Martin McGuinness put the nature of his

:34:50.:34:53.

leadership in the Spotlight, but also in how people responded to news

:34:54.:34:58.

of his death at the wider issue of leadership under scrutiny. As

:34:59.:35:03.

someone who grew up in the 1970s and 80s I am under no illusion of the

:35:04.:35:09.

role of Martin McGuinness and the IRA on our community. I will never

:35:10.:35:13.

seek to diminish the wrong that was done with the grief that was caused

:35:14.:35:18.

or in any way to justify the use of violence in Northern Ireland. It not

:35:19.:35:22.

acceptable now and it was not acceptable them.

:35:23.:35:24.

APPLAUSE. Neither do I whitewash at the broken

:35:25.:35:41.

and profoundly unjust nature of this society into which people like

:35:42.:35:44.

Martin McGuinness was born. I understand the anger that led many

:35:45.:35:48.

young people right across our community to turn to violence,

:35:49.:35:52.

nevertheless I still believe that choice was wrong, destructive and

:35:53.:35:56.

ultimately did more harm than good. In all I have said and done since I

:35:57.:36:01.

have acknowledged the justifiable anger hurt and pain of those most

:36:02.:36:08.

affected by violence, those who bear the physical, mental and emotional

:36:09.:36:12.

scars of terrorism. I also recognise that in these last 20 years he not

:36:13.:36:19.

only moved away from violence but sought to bring others were sent. I

:36:20.:36:24.

recognise the value of the work that he did, not only in challenging his

:36:25.:36:30.

opponents but also in stretching his constituency throughout his time in

:36:31.:36:37.

office as a minister, and in offices Deputy First Minister. People like

:36:38.:36:41.

Martin McGuinness, like Ian Paisley, like David Ervine and many others

:36:42.:36:46.

have a chequered past. They contributed in word and indeed to

:36:47.:36:50.

the Troubles and to the painful legacy which we have inherited. But

:36:51.:36:55.

I acknowledge and appreciate that they also contributed to the peace

:36:56.:36:59.

when they moved away from those entrenched positions towards the

:37:00.:37:03.

relative peace that we now enjoy. That move a lot of progress to be

:37:04.:37:07.

made towards a brighter future and for that I am grateful. However,

:37:08.:37:12.

that darker legacy is still with us and even this week we have continued

:37:13.:37:17.

to wrestle with that. In how we find the right words to express our

:37:18.:37:20.

sympathy to a grieving family without it the same time compounding

:37:21.:37:25.

the pain of another grieving family. How do we complete the work of

:37:26.:37:31.

trying to address the needs of victims and survivors, their varying

:37:32.:37:36.

desires for truth, justice, support and recognition in a way that

:37:37.:37:39.

demonstrates integrity, compassion and honesty, but also allows us to

:37:40.:37:46.

move forward. If we are to do so, to transition beyond bitterness and

:37:47.:37:50.

hatred beyond division and conflict, beyond revenge and recrimination,

:37:51.:37:54.

then that the man that we reconcile ourselves not only with each other

:37:55.:37:58.

but also with our pimple and broken history. Ultimately, in life we make

:37:59.:38:04.

peace with the enemy is not with their friends so we have to find it

:38:05.:38:09.

within us to get the generosity, the grace, the bigger vision of a better

:38:10.:38:14.

future that gives us the strength and determination to do so in

:38:15.:38:19.

difficult days. The past cannot be undone, but it does not have to be

:38:20.:38:24.

repeated. It cannot and should not be raised but it also cannot and

:38:25.:38:29.

should not forever overshadow and limit our future. We must find a way

:38:30.:38:34.

to make up in the dark places. APPLAUSE.

:38:35.:38:46.

-- make hope in the dark places. As I draw my remarks to a close I

:38:47.:38:51.

want to turn my thoughts are other leaders. Some with us in this room,

:38:52.:38:56.

some who have now passed on. Who lived through those times but he

:38:57.:39:02.

chose peace when violence was the more obvious choice, he chose

:39:03.:39:05.

building as shared futures when others were ripping the present

:39:06.:39:09.

apart. I think the leadership of those who came together in 1970 and

:39:10.:39:14.

formed the Alliance Party as a radical alternative to a divisive

:39:15.:39:19.

than violent politics. At a time when others to Northern Ireland over

:39:20.:39:24.

the brink of destructive action and reaction, people who made Hope

:39:25.:39:27.

flourish in a dark moment. I think the leadership of those who joined

:39:28.:39:33.

them lead the party throughout the 1970s and 80s who worked ceaselessly

:39:34.:39:38.

for peace, Facebook are courageously against every injustice and all

:39:39.:39:43.

violence and continued to be a voice of reason and calm in unreasonable

:39:44.:39:48.

and turbulent times, who made Hope flourish throughout the darkest of

:39:49.:39:51.

days. I think of the leadership of those who lead the party through

:39:52.:39:57.

successive rounds and talks up to and after the Good Friday Agreement,

:39:58.:40:02.

who were consistent in their commitment to devolution and in

:40:03.:40:04.

their support for the rule of law, who reconcile... Who recognise that

:40:05.:40:13.

reconciliation is not a soft option but a hard necessity if we are going

:40:14.:40:17.

to secure real peace and not merely the absence of violence. They

:40:18.:40:22.

offered a real alternative to the darkness. They ensured that the hope

:40:23.:40:26.

of real change would continue to flourish. We in this room are the

:40:27.:40:31.

people who carry forward that legacy, who are charged with being

:40:32.:40:35.

the change-makers for today and tomorrow. We have a vision of a

:40:36.:40:40.

society which is not about us and them, but about what we can do

:40:41.:40:46.

together. We have a rich and diverse membership, one which is growing

:40:47.:40:49.

rapidly in every part of Northern Ireland, membership is made up of

:40:50.:40:55.

people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations,

:40:56.:41:00.

faith abilities. What makes us strong are our shared beliefs and

:41:01.:41:04.

our common values. Those values bridge across our membership from

:41:05.:41:07.

the founder members of this party to the newest members in the room. We

:41:08.:41:12.

are connected by a fundamental belief that our people here, I ever

:41:13.:41:17.

diverse, have more in common than divides them. When it comes to

:41:18.:41:22.

difference we have a choice. We can use it to divide people and we can

:41:23.:41:28.

make it a weakness, or we can embrace and celebrate our diversity

:41:29.:41:32.

and make it our strength. In the Alliance Party we will celebrate it.

:41:33.:41:37.

We have a strong and proud legacy, but more importantly, we have an

:41:38.:41:42.

important job to do in this society, continuing to offer an alternative

:41:43.:41:46.

vision for the future, and aspirational vision of a society

:41:47.:41:50.

which is progressive, liberal, fair and open in which rights are

:41:51.:41:55.

respected, talented celebrated commerce creativity is nurtured and

:41:56.:42:00.

each person is valued. That is a vision which only a party which

:42:01.:42:05.

itself is progressive, liberal, fair and open, a party that has a diverse

:42:06.:42:09.

and vibrant membership, a party committed to offering hope for the

:42:10.:42:15.

future can truly represent. Today in Parliament buildings just across the

:42:16.:42:19.

road the future of devolution hangs in the balance. The clock is ticking

:42:20.:42:26.

down to Mandy's deadline. Whilst others may secretly hanker for a

:42:27.:42:30.

period of direct rule or feel that another election may offer the

:42:31.:42:33.

chance of a better result for their party, we are clear that neither

:42:34.:42:37.

will solve the problems we face today. Voter turnout in the Assembly

:42:38.:42:42.

election was the highest we have seen since the first election after

:42:43.:42:45.

the group by the agreement was signed. People saw the institutions

:42:46.:42:50.

in jeopardy and the clear message they gave to each of our selected

:42:51.:42:54.

was they want to see devolution restored and delivering. Our peace

:42:55.:43:01.

process and our institutions are imperfect and unfinished. They are a

:43:02.:43:07.

work in progress. The clear message from voters was the one echoed by

:43:08.:43:13.

Bill Clinton on Thursday. Finish the work. Conference, we are up for that

:43:14.:43:19.

task and whatever is ahead, the talks or elections, whether in

:43:20.:43:23.

government or in opposition, we will play a positive and constructive

:43:24.:43:28.

role in raising the standards of government, of moving beyond

:43:29.:43:33.

divisions of our past, of building peace and reconciliation, of driving

:43:34.:43:38.

forward a progressive liberal, just and vibrant society, of being a

:43:39.:43:41.

radical alternative to binary politics, of ensuring that Hope

:43:42.:43:48.

continues to flourish, of delivering change for good. Thank you.

:43:49.:43:56.

APPLAUSE. So, that was Naomi Long's speech to

:43:57.:44:03.

the Alliance Party conference as leader. Not surprisingly, she is

:44:04.:44:07.

getting a standing ovation from members of the party who were

:44:08.:44:10.

clearly impressed with what she had to say. She is shaking hands with

:44:11.:44:19.

Trevor Lunn, she specifically referenced him on her work with

:44:20.:44:28.

their RHI issue. She has been braced by David Ford. Michael Long, her

:44:29.:44:35.

husband, Belfast City Council. These are significant members of the

:44:36.:44:41.

Alliance Party. She makes her way down through the body of the hall.

:44:42.:44:46.

She did reference in that speech as we expected the death of Martin

:44:47.:44:50.

McGuinness, the Alliance Party's vision of a shared society, a party

:44:51.:44:56.

on the up after a good result. A good result in this month's Paul.

:44:57.:45:01.

She also talked about getting the challenge of the devolution project

:45:02.:45:09.

getting up and running again. Let's go back to the competent doctor or

:45:10.:45:14.

political editor, Mark Devenport. No huge surprises there. She ticked the

:45:15.:45:19.

box is that we thought she would do. Again, no huge surprise, but for her

:45:20.:45:25.

positive that she received such a warm response from the delegates

:45:26.:45:29.

that there. I budget was always going to receive a warm response.

:45:30.:45:34.

She said she is still getting used to the notion that she is a leader,

:45:35.:45:40.

she said that she thinks people are talking about David Ford when she

:45:41.:45:45.

hears people talk about the leader of the Alliance Party. She had to

:45:46.:45:51.

stop and take a couple of drinks of water because she had real flu, not

:45:52.:45:59.

man flu, she said. They don't seem to know yet if they will go into

:46:00.:46:03.

government or opposition yet, because the talks are still going

:46:04.:46:09.

on. A speech like that it is going into directions. It is partly for

:46:10.:46:13.

people like ourselves and our audience at home which is not

:46:14.:46:16.

necessarily an Alliance Party supporting audience, but it was

:46:17.:46:22.

directed at the new members of the Alliance Party, the rank and file

:46:23.:46:25.

who have done so much to get the party to where it is. They are

:46:26.:46:31.

critical to what she is talking about today. Yes. She is trying to

:46:32.:46:37.

urge them on. She talked about the geographical spread that she hopes

:46:38.:46:45.

will happen. They held onto their eight seats, that has to be good in

:46:46.:46:49.

a diminished assembly but there are still large parts of Northern

:46:50.:46:51.

Ireland where there are not represented. She said they are

:46:52.:46:57.

recruiting in nontraditional areas to go out and fight for the

:46:58.:47:02.

extension of the party. I have a couple of senior linesman is with

:47:03.:47:07.

me. Kellie Armstrong, Strangford MLA, beside Stephen Farry, North

:47:08.:47:15.

Down MLA. Kellie Armstrong got a big mention in this speech, the cameras

:47:16.:47:22.

looked around for her, but they couldn't find her because she was

:47:23.:47:27.

standing beside me! No problem. One moment in the speech was when Naomi

:47:28.:47:33.

Long set out the red lines for going into government last time. She said

:47:34.:47:36.

there had been an outright rejection of those by the bigger parties. You

:47:37.:47:42.

are in the talks team working on matters of governance such as the

:47:43.:47:47.

kitchens of concern. Are you getting a more sympathetic hearing from the

:47:48.:47:49.

big parties than you did previously. We are sticking firmly to the fact

:47:50.:47:59.

that there does need to be a review of the Petitions of Concern. We

:48:00.:48:03.

don't believe that it should be taken away because we still have to

:48:04.:48:07.

protect minorities and the most vulnerable in society. We are

:48:08.:48:10.

working through those issues as part of the governance. She referred to

:48:11.:48:15.

the murky influence of special advisers, which was part of the

:48:16.:48:21.

story around the Renewable Heat Incentive. Do you think there will

:48:22.:48:25.

be any changes in relation to that? I think there will be. There will be

:48:26.:48:32.

more transparency. We have been pushing this seat that those special

:48:33.:48:35.

advisers will be totally responsible to their ministers, we will see how

:48:36.:48:44.

much they are paid, what they're standing is. This is all part of a

:48:45.:48:47.

package of different negotiations we are having. Naomi Long says there

:48:48.:48:53.

will be a meeting of your ruling council later on today. She wanted

:48:54.:48:59.

to have the deal in her hand that you could discuss as to whether you

:49:00.:49:02.

would go into government or not before that, but no sign of bad

:49:03.:49:07.

deal. Not at this stage. We are on a tide clock through Monday lunchtime

:49:08.:49:13.

for a deal to be in place. We are clear, the longer the parties leave

:49:14.:49:16.

the deal is the more difficult it will be for people to sign up to it.

:49:17.:49:21.

The parties have their own democratic processes to go through.

:49:22.:49:28.

The longer the process goes on, the stronger the prospect that all we

:49:29.:49:34.

will see is a DUP and Sinn Fein carve up or sticking plaster. This

:49:35.:49:40.

is not the new start. This is not the break from the staters go

:49:41.:49:45.

before. Every we are to seek proper devolution restored, it has to be on

:49:46.:49:53.

that inclusive basis. If you haven't got a deal to put to the ruling

:49:54.:49:57.

council, does that mean you are out rock to call them back at short

:49:58.:50:01.

notice and have a big meeting all over again? We will brief them on

:50:02.:50:07.

where things stand and get the temperature of the room as to how

:50:08.:50:14.

people feel. There will be at definitive book taken today because

:50:15.:50:17.

we don't have anything concrete to put to them. For sure, we had a man

:50:18.:50:25.

did last year around the five points that Naomi Long repaired the inner

:50:26.:50:30.

conference speech. In the absence of anything else, that stands as our

:50:31.:50:35.

guide to take those decisions in the days head. We hear that Robin Swann

:50:36.:50:42.

is the only candidate for the Ulster Unionist ship leadership. He will

:50:43.:50:46.

have a coronation next month only takes over from Mike Nesbitt. Is he

:50:47.:50:54.

a leader that you fear? The Ulster Unionist Party have a lot of issues

:50:55.:50:58.

to address over the coming months in terms of how they will be

:50:59.:51:01.

positioning themselves. On a personal level I want to

:51:02.:51:05.

congratulate him. I work very closely with him when he was the

:51:06.:51:09.

chair of the Assembly committee and I think we work very constructively.

:51:10.:51:14.

Rob and has a major challenge ahead. Are they looking for the right to

:51:15.:51:19.

compete with the DUP, will they compete on our territory? We are

:51:20.:51:32.

clear in our vision and values. Kellie Armstrong, what are you get

:51:33.:51:37.

from your sense of talking to people here, would there be more

:51:38.:51:38.

comfortable in government or opposition? We could have an

:51:39.:51:48.

assembly with 85 MLAs after the 90 in government. Our membership is

:51:49.:51:51.

happy being in government or outside. Where we have to be clear

:51:52.:51:56.

is what we will be able to achieve in government. If there is a

:51:57.:51:59.

government with a done deal tied up between Sinn Fein and the DUP, the

:52:00.:52:05.

May not be able to buy into that. Until we see the paperwork and what

:52:06.:52:09.

the agreement is, we will decide today, or perhaps on Monday. Have

:52:10.:52:14.

you got a stack of election posters in your back room that you're given

:52:15.:52:18.

to put up on the lamp posts? Perhaps. What about you, Stephen?

:52:19.:52:31.

Whenever we talk about a second election, people were clear with

:52:32.:52:34.

their vote is the first time around, they want the Assembly back on a

:52:35.:52:39.

proper basis, one that works. If people feel that an election is

:52:40.:52:43.

something that they could have a reward whether to get a stronger

:52:44.:52:50.

mandate, then we will let... Is that the way the big parties are looking

:52:51.:52:55.

at this, as a vanity project? I have been questioning both the DUP and

:52:56.:53:00.

Sinn Fein about them doing a deal, they are saying the words but their

:53:01.:53:07.

actions suggest otherwise. Did the DUP see any electoral advantage out

:53:08.:53:11.

of squeezing even more out of the Ulster Unionist? Does Sinn Fein want

:53:12.:53:16.

to see if they can get more pressure for a border poll? Both that those

:53:17.:53:21.

then amateur pulling the society about. That election would not

:53:22.:53:27.

benefit getting devolution restored. People need to work together for the

:53:28.:53:32.

common good. They can't, nobody can do it by themselves. You put up an

:53:33.:53:38.

integrated Education Bill. If we end up for the period of direct bowl,

:53:39.:53:42.

Private Members' Bill is backed legislation of that kind will come

:53:43.:53:48.

to a grinding halt. Do you feel that devolution is so much better than

:53:49.:53:51.

the possibility of direct rule is to merge with things like integrated

:53:52.:53:56.

education I definitely think so. They want integrated education but

:53:57.:54:00.

they want a devolved government to deliver it. That is what they said

:54:01.:54:04.

at the polls last time. ?5 million is the cost of an election, we do

:54:05.:54:08.

want that to happen because that is the cost of a primary school. We

:54:09.:54:12.

need a budget and a devolved government to deliver that. Kellie

:54:13.:54:20.

Armstrong, Stephen Farry, there mutts leave it. Back to you, Mark.

:54:21.:54:26.

Noisy, but we did hear what Mark and his guests had to say. Professor

:54:27.:54:31.

Wilford is still sitting alongside me. Time for a final word before we

:54:32.:54:39.

bring the programme to a close. There is an interesting reflection

:54:40.:54:44.

for Naomi Long. Did she make a mistake, did the party make a

:54:45.:54:48.

mistake, not going into government last May and how will that

:54:49.:54:51.

influenced the decision that the party has to take the stand if the

:54:52.:54:56.

devolution project is resurrected in the next few days or weeks? It is a

:54:57.:55:03.

question not only that she has to address, but both the SDLP and the

:55:04.:55:06.

Ulster unionists have to address as well. She will only sanction a

:55:07.:55:13.

return to government, and the only way they will do that is if they are

:55:14.:55:20.

offered the justice portfolio, is whether her red lines in relation to

:55:21.:55:26.

institutional reform, more efficient use of public resources and so on

:55:27.:55:31.

are met. They weren't met last May. Was the bar set too high? If they

:55:32.:55:43.

were to accept, or through the justice ministry... What we heard

:55:44.:55:53.

from the speech was how uncertain the context is. We don't know, it is

:55:54.:55:58.

only just over two days from now, that we will know of are going to

:55:59.:56:02.

get an executive or potentially another election or back in rule. It

:56:03.:56:10.

was a broad brush stroke. She gave lots of thanks to all those super

:56:11.:56:13.

crucial in helping them to succeed at the election, I think vote of

:56:14.:56:21.

thanks for David Forde, but it was evident, wasn't it, and from the

:56:22.:56:26.

interview that Mark just did, how uncertain the situation actually is.

:56:27.:56:30.

They can't go to the ruling council and say these are the terms of an

:56:31.:56:34.

offer that we have been made over justice, for example. They simply

:56:35.:56:40.

don't know. I am curious to know what you think the relationship

:56:41.:56:46.

would be between the Alliance Party and an Ulster Unionist Party led by

:56:47.:56:51.

Robin Swann. Would that be good news or a challenge? I think it would be

:56:52.:56:57.

good news. To the extent that they faced the challenge over the kind of

:56:58.:57:01.

electoral ground that they were competing for. Mike Nesbitt on paper

:57:02.:57:10.

Luke Moore of... He had liberal, progressive attitudes towards things

:57:11.:57:14.

like gay rights, which he changed his mind on. Robin Swann is much

:57:15.:57:20.

more socially conservative character. In relation to that sort

:57:21.:57:25.

of agenda, the Alliance Party will feel comfortable that Robin Swann is

:57:26.:57:30.

taking over. I think they would see that they would have more space to

:57:31.:57:37.

the left and right with Robin Swann. I don't think there will be terribly

:57:38.:57:41.

worried about that. It does look like a coronation for Robin Swann.

:57:42.:57:51.

The transparency over political donations, Naomi Long myth that the

:57:52.:57:55.

key point. This is something that her under predecessor have been

:57:56.:58:00.

banging on about for a long time. The Alliance Party operates clearly

:58:01.:58:03.

on this issue and wishes that the other parties followed its line. As

:58:04.:58:10.

things stand, the other parties don't have to move. The Green party

:58:11.:58:17.

has. It discloses its financing. In a sense, the parties could

:58:18.:58:21.

voluntarily decide to disclose all donations that they receive from

:58:22.:58:25.

whatever source. They choose not to currently. They could be compelled

:58:26.:58:34.

to buy Westminster legislation, and the Secretary of State could demand

:58:35.:58:38.

of the political parties that they fall into line with the legislation

:58:39.:58:45.

and disclose their funding. It is an interesting matter that will

:58:46.:58:49.

continue to form part of the political debate. That is if from

:58:50.:58:53.

this year's Alliance Party conference. Join me for some the

:58:54.:58:57.

conference politics tomorrow morning. Goodbye.

:58:58.:59:05.

the largest cut-flower producer in Northern Ireland.

:59:06.:59:14.

at the Ballycastle horse ploughing championship.

:59:15.:59:18.