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Naomi Long: Tories need to get their facts right

By Naomi Long

Published 29/03/2016

Justice Minister David Ford
Justice Minister David Ford

I want to thank the Conservative member who recently wrote in this newspaper accusing Alliance of not delivering since David Ford has been Justice Minister - thanks, because it allows me to respond to the mistakes the article contained.

The Conservatives have no realistic chance of entering the Northern Ireland Executive, therefore find it more constructive to snipe from the sidelines rather than look at the facts, which show David Ford as one of the best-performing Executive ministers in the past Assembly term.

Public confidence in the justice system and the PSNI is up. Rates of offending, the proportion of young people involved with the justice system and delays in Youth and Magistrates Courts are down.

You can add the millions seized from criminals and diverted to the community, the reforming of legal aid and introducing new laws to tackle sexual crimes, fuel laundering and animal cruelty.

Under David Ford we have seen the removal of interface barriers across our community. While progress might not have been as fast as hoped, we have seen more movement in this area than under direct rule.

Alliance delivered a respectful solution to the flying of the Union flag on City Hall to bring Belfast into line with the majority of councils in the rest of the UK, while deadlock was perpetuated by others and facilitated by the UK Conservative Government.

As for the accusation around contentious parades - the Parades Commission is an independent body, with members appointed by a Conservative colleague of his, the Secretary of State, under no local ministerial direction. This is without even mentioning Stephen Farry's work in DEL, where he has radically transformed apprenticeships, assisted thousands of people to find work and delivered new investments to build our science and knowledge economy.

In the past six years Alliance has delivered more fundamental reform than any other party - all of which is geared towards building a safer and shared community.

We would encourage others - including the Conservatives - to show the same leadership.

  • Naomi Long is an Alliance Assembly candidate in East Belfast

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