Alliance Calls For Action On Strategic Framework On Shared Education

The Alliance Party has called on the First and Deputy First Ministers to bring forward a strategic framework for a shared educational future.

Alliance Executive Office spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA was speaking ahead of an Alliance Assembly motion to be brought today, Monday 08 April, focusing on the ongoing cost of division in Northern Ireland, which was most recently estimated to up to £800 million per year due to duplicated services in a divided society.

She said savings from this could be put back into the public purse and help ease pressures in areas such as health and education, which along with public sector reform to build on good relations work already taking place across society, would see benefits more widely shared.

"Alliance MLAs are bringing this motion to the Assembly but really it should be top of everyone’s agenda in Northern Ireland," she said.

"Significant progress has been made in our society since the Good Friday Agreement but scars remain, with many having not benefited. We have not achieved the genuinely shared future envisioned at that time, one where we are not confined to one side of a sectarian fault line in seeking out opportunities to express ourselves, and moving beyond the notion of two traditional communities here.

"Uniting our community is not only about building an integrated society and ending sectarian divisions, but also removing the massive black hole in public finances. That cost is money which could be spent on public services – a literal cost of segregation.

"Any benefits we do see are still not felt broadly enough, and so it is vital the First and deputy First Minister – as well as their parties – heed Alliance’s call and bring forward a strategic framework. It would see policies committed to a shared future developed across all Departments, to help us tackle division and remove the old traditional dividing lines.

"Since the return of the institutions, we have heard repeatedly how tight finances are and how little money there is to go around to help public services. We need to move on from seeing goods and facilities provided for separate sections of the community, and from the inevitable pressures on housing, policing, schooling and elsewhere which create inefficiency and added cost.

"We also need to recognise and act on the missed opportunities in investment and tourism, which could be captured by taking seriously the task of building a truly united community. A framework to do so would allow us to replace a bitter, fearful and divided past with a brighter, hopeful and shared future."

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