‘Shared future strategy urgently needed 15 years after Belfast Agreement’ – Alliance

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Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Alliance Party South Down spokesperson Councillor Patrick Clarke has said that 15 years on from the Belfast Agreement, now is the time to deliver a shared future without delay. His comments follow the statement from the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers who said that Northern Ireland could lose out on investment if we do not deliver a shared future.

Speaking to Newry Times, Clarke said, “15 years on from the signing of the Belfast Agreement, much of its potential remains unfulfilled. If we are to see the full benefits of the agreement, then we need to tackle the single biggest challenge facing Northern Ireland: the delivery of a shared future for everyone.

“The failure to deliver a shared future will not only risk perpetuating division but we could lose out on economic investment and fail to tackle disadvantage.

“The Alliance Party made a constructive proposal in January this year that the First Minister and deputy First Minister establish an open and transparent shared future reference group comprising elected representatives from the main political parties and representatives of civic society that would make recommendations on a shared future strategy by June this year.”

 “A shared future reference group would involve elected representatives and civic society experts working in partnership to find solutions to the biggest challenges to building a shared future, namely integrated education, shared housing, a comprehensive method of dealing with the past and an agreement on the display of flags.

Clarke added, “This would present an opportunity to find imaginative and meaningful proposals that the behind-closed-doors OFMDFM working group has, in over 18 months, failed to achieve.

“I would call on political parties who are committed to a shared society to support this proposal and for the First and deputy First Minister to adopt this new approach without delay.”

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