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Alliance Opposition to Programme for Government
13 November 2000

THE Alliance Party will today (Monday) be making serious criticisms of the draft Programme for Government for its failure to address the deep divisions that remain in Northern Ireland, and to promote an agenda of sharing over separation.

The debate on the draft Programme for Government begins in Stormont on Monday.

Speaking in advance of the debate, Alliance Chief Whip, David Ford said:

“Despite the Agreement, the biggest problem in Northern Ireland remains the deep divisions in our society.

“When Alliance launched its Alternative Programme of Government last month, we highlighted a central theme of promoting sharing over separation.

“While the Executive’s draft Programme of Government does have many positive policy suggestions, it fundamentally fails to address the divisions in this society – divisions that could ultimately destroy the Agreement if they are not addressed.

“The flowery rhetoric at the beginning of the document belies the reality that there is for instance only one line on integrated education in 85 pages, there is no mention of promoting mixed housing, there is no detailed strategy for improving community relations, no measures to tackle the proliferation of flags and sectarian graffiti on public property, and no plans to appraise policies for their impact on sharing over separation.”

“Alliance intends to highlight these deficiencies in today’s debate and urges the Executive to correct this major problem.”

Notes to editors:

Alliance is the only opposition party to have produced its own alternative to the Executive’s document. The following are just some areas which Alliance believes have not been adequately covered in the draft Programme for Government.

Alliance wants all Government policies to be proofed to ensure they promote sharing over separation. The Programme for Government only calls for policies to be ‘rural proofed’.

Alliance wants to boost the number of pupils in integrated education to 10 percent by 2010 through the transformation of existing schools. The Government only proposes to relax criteria for new integrated schools.

Alliance has called for the integration of public housing. The Programme for Government merely calls for more home ownership while saying the Executive will look at the existing patterns of housing.

Alliance has called for more funding for community relations projects. The Executive says it is committed to improving community relations – but has few policy proposals.

Alliance wants the Committee of the Centre to investigate the barriers people entering into mixed marriages face. There is no mention of this in the Programme for Government.

Alliance has called for a Children’s Commissioner. No mention in Programme for Government.

Alliance has called for action to be taken on the proliferation of illegal flags and graffiti in public spaces. No mention in Programme for Government.

ENDS