Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Alliance voluntary coalition idea a non-starter

THE Alliance Party, with less than half the vote of the SDLP and twice the number of ministers in the Executive, has plenty to say about Stormont and how it would be a wonderful place with a voluntary coalition (News, July 10).

This is an amazing stance for a party that is so committed to partnership, cohesion and integration. It also suggests that David Ford should read the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) again. Stormont is a working model of a political arrangement which has got us out of a mess, when too many people were pledged to killing and bombing as a means of political change.

That being a fact does not mean we are anywhere near a situation where voluntary coalition – in any form – would provide the level of stability needed. It would inevitably mean exclusion. Sadly, the two biggest political parties now in control at Stormont either don't understand the principles and aims of the GFA, or deliberately work them for their own political advantage.

Had the challenges facing us over the last 16 years been met, the peace walls would, hopefully, be down by now and the endless rows over flags and bonfires certainly wouldn't be flourishing.

Anyone who thinks that the North is ready for voluntary coalition is not in the real world. That is particularly the view of many of us who have lived through a past when unionist domination, and downright injustice, brought us to the point of no return.

JOHN DALLAT (SDLP)

MLA for East Londonderry

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