Is an agreed “shared future” strategy a precondition for Alliance Justice Minister?

On BBC NI’s Hearts and Minds tonight Alliance Party leader David Ford declined to explicitly state that an agreed Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy was his party’s precondition for the devolution of policing and justice powers, but the party seems keen to give someone that impression. With one part of OFMDFM threatening to sulk, again, the Alliance Party’s Anna Lo, MLA, is quoted in an iol report.

The party, which is not a member of the four-party power-sharing executive, has now made clear that its co-operation will not come without progress on segregation – which it claims costs the North £1bn a year. “It would be nearly impossible for progress to be made on issues such as policing and justice if we don’t have a shared future strategy agreed urgently,” said Ms Lo. “Think of the whirlwind of bad publicity worldwide over the intimidation that forced Romanian families out of their Belfast homes (in June). “The Executive cannot afford to duck these issues any longer. We are in the teeth of a financial crisis and addressing the cash wasted on maintaining division is the best way to safeguard vital frontline health services in the future.”

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  • Occasional Voter

    Anna Lo – what a breath of fresh air to our 19th century politics and dinosaur politicians.

    She’s a star.

  • Seymour Major

    Nothing wrong with the Alliance wanting an end to segregation but lets assume that is not acceptable to the DUP and Sinn Fein. Is it really in their interests to turn down this Ministry?

    I would have thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for that party to do some very necessary reforming work and raise their political profile.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Is it really in their interests to turn down this Ministry?

    Alliance’s bargaining power comes from the absence of an alternative. But I doubt that means that full scale roadblocking is going to occur. There will need to be a package and commitment to a timetable on the Shared Future strategy will have to be part of it.

  • DC

    Well, you can now add Alliance to the list of those other well-known parties that are constantly engaged in bargaining and not governing.

    But who can blame them?

  • Fabianus

    Occasional Voter

    Nineteenth century? You flatter them.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Wee Davey did initially play hard to get for a few months when offered this post and spent some time ridiculously claiming that he couldnt agree to enter the Stormo tent because – with SF and DUP already in there – it meant that Stormo was unworkable.

    Having moved on from that untenable position a little bit of light muscle flexing is to be expected as it is all the rage with the DUP at the moment – but as Comrade Stalin points out its unlikely that “full scale roadblocking is going to occur” and is surely an excellent opportunity for Alliance, as the only non-tribal party in Stormo, to both raise the profile of the party and show that moderation is a vital ingredient in making politics work in the Northern Irish territories.

  • Junior Apparatchik

    Well said Anna.

  • BonarLaw

    Seymour Major

    the problem with CSI lies with the Shinners who walked away from the officials draft paper and went rogue with Ms Anderson.

  • Fabianus


    the problem with CSI lies with the Shinners

    I disagree. I see it more as a problem with shoddy TV production values.

  • DC

    The problem with CSI is consociationalism and for all the attempts at sharing on the (usually working class) streets, the assembly itself, representative of the people, continues to divide systematically down ethno-national lines on issues of contention – ie when a community vote is required to split up the house and veto each other. Making a public sphere / public agency cohesion strategy all a bit vain. But not entirely pointless (as the wide spread apathy-dislike for politicians at the moment may favour this CSI approach as politicians aren’t credible).

    Also, the survival of power-sharing rests on the survival of division and this form of political sociology, that is democratic representatives interacting with the state and each other in a divisive manner or motivating to divide against one another – will only serve to maintain those divisive attitudes and prejudices out there at street level.

    This is why Margaret Ritchie’s call for a shared future is phoney, as the SDLP designates nationalists, and why designating as united community and opting out of designating unionist and nationalist altogether for Alliance is flawed. In as much as opting for being agnostic on the constitution is too, as there is a mult-identity option there, which while not being cosmopolitan in capturing all the diversity out there might actual ratchet up a proper cross-community cohort.

    The only way to beat the system is to work it to your own advantage while making a social and political point in your favour. Plus you would get voting rights and could interfere as it suits on a division by division basis.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Rather that trying to get full agreement on all issues it would be interesting to see if agreement could reached on some.

    A good place to start might be with the integrated education sector given that presumably all parties at least pay lip service to supporitng it – perhaps a public stance of support backed up with an all party committment to financially back it would both send out a powerful message that there is a real desire to work together in the interests of everyone and perhaps reveal that when the really akward contentionus issues are strategically parked real progress can be made on other issues.

  • cynic

    If the Alliance Party didn’t have a divided society here in Northern Ireland they would have no reason to exist. Roll on a division free community!

  • Reader

    Anna Lo: The Executive cannot afford to duck these issues any longer. We are in the teeth of a financial crisis and addressing the cash wasted on maintaining division is the best way to safeguard vital frontline health services in the future.
    There may well be a payback in ending division – but it won’t be a quick one and there may well be extra costs in moving towards that goal. So it isn’t a quick fix when we “are in the teeth of a financial crisis”

  • granni trixie

    Cynic: I have often heard Alliance-ites claim that they would be happy to have Alliance out of business.
    Fionulla O’Connor lastweek commented on radio re “Alliance have a cheek …” with their demands…she doesnt seem to get it …Alliance did not seek office …and she should be more respectful of why people turn to them in time of need (eg |Fair Employment,Speakers X 2,cross community Lord Mayors etc).

    Ofcourse obviously Fionulla has an SDLP bias and the SDLP are sore at what they think is ‘their’ justice post. But you’d think O’Connor would be more professional.

  • Pete whitcroft

    It’s the tactical, technical re-designation all over again.
    It’s a longer time in the spotlight and at least this time they are arguing for generally agreed sensible policies to be part of the package.
    Ford has a history of playing a poor hand well, but needs to be a minister soon to secure his seat, especially now that SF cannot be seen to competing for his seat combined with a future situation of a reduced number of seats per constituency.