Speech by David Ford, then leader of the APNI, at the Launch of the APNI's 2005 Election Manifesto, (26 April 2005)
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Speech by David Ford, then Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), at the Launch of the APNI's 2005 Election Manifesto, (26 April 2005)
"This election is your chance to give your verdict on the right way forward for Northern Ireland.
You probably share the frustration that so little progress has been made in recent years. Both unionist parties and both nationalist parties have been given plenty of opportunities, but they have all failed to deliver. The people of Northern Ireland have been betrayed by the men of violence and the political hardliners.
The absence of devolution means that decisions are taken exclusively by remote-control Direct Rule ministers, who are not in tune with the real needs of the people of. While our economy has certainly improved over the past decade, it is still performing well below its potential.
The deep divisions persist in our society. Segregation carries huge human and financial costs. It denies people opportunities, ruins lives, and deprives society of the full benefit of their talents.
Alliance has identified a billion pounds of public expenditure in Northern Ireland that is wasted every year in dealing with the direct and indirect costs of managing a divided society. At the same time, Northern Ireland suffers the longest hospital waiting lists in the UK, has a crumbling infrastructure,and is facing punitive water charges. Just think what we could do with that £1 billion if it was spent on providing quality services to all the community.
While other parties make empty promises, without any idea how they would pay for them,Alliance has identified the hidden costs from which Northern Ireland is suffering. Alliance is committed to using that money for the benefit of all our citizens: to improve schools and hospitals, to renew our public transport and roads, to avoid punitive water charges
It is to Northern Ireland's shame that we have the highest rate of racist attacks in the UK. Alliance welcomes the growing diversity in Northern Ireland, and recognises that our new citizens are valuable members of our community.
On 5 May, there will be two elections on the same day - for Westminster and for the 26 Local Councils.
The strongest possible showing for Alliance in the Westminster election will demonstrate the strength of the centre ground in Northern Ireland, and the demand for a change in direction: to building a shared future, not managing a divided one.
Alliance has a proud record in Local Government. Across Northern Ireland, Alliance councillorshave been a powerful voice for cross-community and anti-sectarian politics. We have ensured power sharing and the rotation of civic offices, and have become well-recognised for positive and responsible attitude to taking decisions on behalf of the whole community.Nowhere is this clearer than in Belfast. Alliance Councillors have used the balance of power to ensure constructive politics and Alliance Lord Mayors have provided strong civic leadership.
Alliance offers an alternative way forward. We have a clear and coherent plan to reform the Agreement, to restore devolution, and to create an effective form of power-sharing government,without giving anyone a veto over progress. It is clear that voluntary coalition works, continued deadlock costs.
We will uphold the rule of law, and oppose all forms of paramilitary and criminal activity. We must prevent the creation of a mafia-state. It is clear that justice works, paramilitarism costs.
We will make improving community relations and working for a shared future our main priority. We do not want a Northern Ireland version of Apartheid. It is clear that sharing works, segregation costs.
We will treat every person as an individual citizen, valuing their contribution to society, and recognising their choice over identity. It is clear that respect works, bigotry costs.
Alliance provides a real alternative to the failed politics of unionism and nationalism. It's the only alterative. We have a clear vision, a clear set of values, and a clear purpose. We seek to build a united community
Alliance Works, Tribal Politics Costs."
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
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