Belfast Telegraph

Taking the lead as an instrument for change

Its handling of the Justice portfolio shows Alliance is able for the most demanding job at Stormont. Now the party has its sights set on a second Executive ministry, says David Ford

Alliance has been leading change for more than 40 years, delivering positive politics and solutions that no other party offers.

We have, at the heart of our party, a desire to build a shared future to deliver a better society for all.

That is why I believe we can deliver a more coherent and more stable government that works for everyone.

The conservative parties of unionism and nationalism - representing the politics of another time - do not want anything to change.

But we believe change is possible. That's why we've made change the theme of our election campaign.

We have set out our vision of a society where everyone can live, work and socialise together in safety; a better place to live - better meaning more peaceful, prosperous and vibrant.

A society where divisions will be dismantled, and with them the heavy cost-burden we currently carry to pay for segregation.

Alliance recently published the most comprehensive manifesto ever presented by any political party in Northern Ireland.

It is much more than a manifesto - it is a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of our systems of government, our public services and the policies and operation of our Executive departments.

We have real ambition for Northern Ireland - and we have the vision to match that ambition.

Our movement for change is growing across Northern Ireland and we believe we will see enough Alliance MLAs elected on May 5 to deliver a second seat in the Executive.

This could be a new era of Alliance delivery right at the heart of government.

Over the last year, we have shown that Alliance is able for the toughest job in government and that we can match our ambitions with real delivery. We have shown what Alliance ministers can achieve.

We haven't run away from tough decisions and difficult problems - I've stuck to my plans to bring legal aid under control and to reform our prison system.

This hasn't been easy, but when an Alliance minister determines that change is necessary, change will happen.

We have been straight with people. Where we have made promises and commitments, we've kept them - whether that's been around Assembly and Westminster double-jobbing, where Naomi Long stood down from her Assembly seat, or transparency around political party funding.

Alliance has led the way in calling for action to tackle segregation in our society.

This problem costs our society £1billion annually and also seriously damages community relations.

Only Alliance passes the shared future test. Other parties pay lip-service to this important issue because they see how we have put it on the agenda and how much the public want the problem addressed.

While it's good to see that other parties concede we are right on the need to tackle division, only Alliance is making the issue our top priority.

We also plan to deliver an 'Economic Revolution' for Northern Ireland.

Many of the economic drivers that we need to secure our recovery and transform our economic future - enterprise, skills innovation and infrastructure - are controlled by the Assembly, but are spread across departments.

We would create a Department for the Economy as part of a comprehensive restructuring of government.

A single department would better promote the needs of business and ensure joined-up working.

Pending that restructuring, we would develop a robust, inter-departmental economic strategy by the end of this year, focused on job-creation, setting out a long-term strategy for increasing productivity and competitiveness.

The Alliance Party's long-standing policy proposal for a 'Green New Deal' provides another example of us leading change for a stronger economy.

Through this we can protect the environment while, at the same time, creating much-needed jobs.

Northern Ireland needs a party that will provide solutions on job-creation and that will ensure that money is not wasted on duplicated services. The public wants a party that will help our economy grow and will make the right decisions on public services.

Our society needs a party at the centre of government that has a clear vision for a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Only Alliance has the courage and vision to lead this change.

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