31/05/2012

Alliance Under Fire For 'Ludicrous' Move

Alliance Party politicians have come under fire for pulling out of a Stormont all-party working group.

Last week, leader David Ford announced the party’s departure from a group set up to discuss community relations.

Mr Ford said the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration group had not been strong enough on schools, housing or flags.

But yesterday, First Minister Peter Robinson called the move "ludicrous" and the Alliance Party "belligerent".

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Robinson said he and the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuiness, were still committed to the process.

He said: "For anybody to walk out on the basis that they are not getting everything that they want seems a ludicrous position to adopt. None of us will get everything that we want in that document. I think you've seen some fairly belligerent and bellicose behaviour on the part of the Alliance Party of late. I think it's unfortunate."

Alliance insisted on the shared future strategy two years ago as a condition for them taking the justice ministry.

Mr Robinson said: "If they were serious on that basis they would pull out of the justice ministry. All I can say is that (Ford) did indicate that that (a Shared Future strategy) was an essential ingredient for him to be justice minister."

Alliance Party MLA Stephen Farry defended the decision to leave the working group, saying the agreements it was coming to were "heading for a lowest common denominator" because discussions were being held behind closed doors.

(NE)

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