Alliance unveils plans for Assembly
Legislation promoting integrated education and cross-community housing feature in a blueprint for the next Assembly unveiled by the Alliance Party.
Its leader, current Justice Minister David Ford, proposed a series of pieces of legislation that he said would deliver proposals postponed by the current Executive, as well as providing new ideas for the future.
Mr Ford also tabled legislation that would make crisis-hit Northern Ireland Water a mutual company, which the party said would direct its profits towards boosting its services.
The Alliance leader said his party's Legislative Programme was the first attempt by a Northern Ireland party to spell out a proposed agenda for Assembly law makers in advance of a new term.
"Politics is about providing solutions, and that's why Alliance is launching our legislative programme. Northern Ireland needs fresh ideas and strong leadership," he said.
"We are the first party in Northern Ireland to ever publish specific plans for legislation for a future Assembly term. We are leading change."
The proposals included plans for a Shared and Integrated Education Bill, with incentives to develop shared and integrated education; a Bill to deliver more shared housing in Northern Ireland; and an Education and Skills Authority Bill, introducing the Education and Skills Authority proposed by the Education Minister but so far stalled at the Executive.
Also planned are a distinct Climate Change Bill for Northern Ireland, addressing local conditions and modifying the over-arching UK legislation; a Bill to create an Independent Environmental Protection Agency; and a NI Water Governance Bill to transform the organisation into a mutual company.
Mr Ford said all the measures would improve community relations, help deliver savings and, in the case of NI Water, help find the investment needed to upgrade the antiquated water supply system.
"We want to deliver better, more joined-up government," he said. "Northern Ireland has too many politicians but not enough leaders."