30/04/2013

Villiers Calls For 'Sectarian-Free' NI

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has called on MLAs to work together towards a sectarian-free Northern Ireland.

Noting that some young people involved in disorder this year were born after the peace process, Ms Villiers said lawlessness sends a negative message round the world.

Her message came yesterday in a speech marking the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

The NI Secretary held meetings yesterday with Irish Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Eamon Gilmore, as well as the First and deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland.

She said trouble on the streets was being beamed around the world via international media, and that it was negatively affecting Northern Ireland's reputation and its ability to compete economically.

The announcement follows revelations by Ms Villiers in April that funding for Northern Ireland could be withdrawn if progress on creating a 'shared future' was not realised.
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Alliance OFMDFM spokesperson Chris Lyttle responded to Ms Villiers' comments by calling for an "overarching Shared Future strategy to show that the Executive is united."

Chris Lyttle MLA said: "I welcome the comments from the Secretary of State in highlighting one of the biggest challenges facing our Executive. We won’t achieve what we want for Northern Ireland if we don’t address this issue.

“There is a need for an overarching Shared Future strategy to show that the Executive is united on agreeing a way forward on this. My Alliance colleagues the Ministers for Justice and Employment and Learning, are progressing a shared future in their Departments, but this is because they are choosing to do so rather than because they are following an Executive agreed action plan.

"It is nearly a year since Alliance left the working group to produce a revised CSI document as it was clear that it would not produce a challenging enough document. It appears that no progress has been made by the parties that remain in this working group which is why the First and deputy First Minister must agree to a new process with politicians and members of civic society working together in an open and transparent manner to produce a new strategy."

(IT/CD)

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