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Bigoted actions by parties are disgraceful

The concept of a shared society has been widely discussed in recent weeks after the Alliance Party withdrew from the Executive committee which is unable to agree a new Shared Future strategy.

New plans for the Girdwood site in north Belfast also generated debate, with segregated housing at either end of the site a disgraceful element of the plan which was agreed between the DUP, Sinn Fein and SDLP MLAs for the area.

These plans prolong division and are a polar opposite of what a Shared Society should look like.

The spotlight was then turned towards gay people. A recent Equality Commission report concerning public attitudes towards minorities provoked Ulster Unionist Lord Ken Maginnis to express his view that homosexuality is a rung on the ladder to bestiality. Despite the offence caused, Ken remains both unrepentant and a member of the Ulster Unionist Party. Bigoted views, such as those expressed by Ken, have no place in a civilised society.

In between these stories, the same old sectarian council carve-ups continued. It seems that nothing much has changed at Craigavon or Castlereagh, with the DUP and Ulster Unionists again working together to exclude others from council positions.

If those wearing the Shared Future blanket are serious about building a shared society, it's time they stopped wearing it as a fashion item and reversed the disgraceful actions of recent weeks.

ANDREW MUIR

Vice-chair, Alliance Party