Belfast Telegraph

Alliance Party shares everything, even metaphors

It is, of course, the party made for sharing. Alliance types share everything, not just their much beloved ‘shared future’.

And there was much of that sort of thing going on at the party’s annual conference at the weekend.

But it was still a bit embarrassing when their top two people end up even sharing a metaphor.

In their speeches both David Ford and Naomi Long riffed off the fact that the Good Friday Agreement is coming of age this year.

This year is the 18th birthday of the deal which brought about the party’s designation of ‘united community’ in the Assembly which, as Mr Ford points out, is still what Alliance is all about.

And it is a fact that thousands of those who will be voting for the first time in May were just new-borns when the GFA fell into place.

The Agreement had struggled as a toddler, Naomi quipped - and had been on the ‘naughty step’ too long, when Stormont was suspended between 2002 - 2007.

Then, in adolescence, it had proved a “difficult” teenager, she went on, sometimes in need of intervention (presumably by the mummy and daddy of the London and Dublin Governments) and at times showing a dreadful lack of maturity.

But now it was 18, the lady most likely to replace Ford in the hot seat when he finally decides to retire, went on - and time for devolution as created by the GFA to start acting like an adult.

The East Belfast MP who hopes to become an East Belfast MLA again after the election, then built up to her best line, warning against Stormont taking more backward steps.

“One step forward, two steps back is fine on Strictly Come Dancing, but it’s no way to run a country.” she said.

Then just minutes later, having said he was looking forward to five Long years (geddit) it looked like Mr Ford had failed to run his eye over Naomi’s script.   

“The Good Friday Agreement is “no longer a fragile young child, not even a sulky teenager. It is reaching its majority,” the party leader said.

And of course come election day majorities is what it will be all about.

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