McCann meets…David Ford MLA #AP2014

In my second interview from the Alliance party conference, I was able to chat to the party leader, Justice Minister, David Ford. In the interview we chatted about the conference, his predictions for the future growth of the party and the On the Runs issue.

I asked him about the comments made by Anna Lo in the Irish News;

If any leading member of the party had said that I have a long term vision that Northern Ireland remains within the United Kingdom would it have been an issue? Yet, we are a party with a diverse background with a huge variety of ideas coming in from very different quarters and inevitably if you’re a party for everyone…you funnily enough attract that variety of different people.

I then probed him about the level of criticism that he and his party colleagues are faced with these days. But, instead of seeing this as a negative, Ford believes that the increase in criticism of his party is due to the fact that Alliance is now a real player in Northern Ireland politics.

So, now that the party is a player does he think that they could overtake the UUP at the next assembly election?

I know opinion polls sometimes in the past have exaggerated our support…I think that’s changing think the polls are much closer to reality and accuracy now and I think that is going to be born out in the election. I think there is a very strong chance that we will be one of the big four by the time of the assembly election.

We then moved on to some issues facing the Department of Justice, namely the On The Runs case, to which I asked him had his confidence in the Secretary of State been damaged?

Absolutely clear that the initial answers that came from the current government blaming it all on their predecessors were not accurate and I have had an apology which has been made public, not every politician apologises when things like that are said…

I concluded by asking him about peace walls and how he felt when he approved the creation of another peace wall in East Belfast

It wasn’t particularly pleasant. But, let’s remember what we put up was a sort of wire netting curtain that can be pulled across at times. That is a long way from being a permanent wall and I think the very fact that, that was done was an indicated of particular difficulties in that area.

Full audio:

McCann meets David Ford MLA by Ontherecord98fm on Mixcloud

, , , , , , ,

  • Charles_Gould

    David Ford is certainly an impressive party leader, who has built up Alliance from quite a low point 10 years ago to the situation where it has MPs and Ministers – not something that could have been said 10 years ago.

  • @Charles,

    Yes, I think Ford will go down as being Alliance’s most impressive leader–at least so far. Napier established the party as the de facto leader but remained as leader for too long. John Cushnahan never really had enough time to develop as a leader. His main contribution was to demonstrate that people from a cultural nationalist background could be at home in the party. Alderdice made a contribution but I heard complaints that he and his brother were monopolizing the leadership of the party. Neeson suffered from the same problem as Cushnahan.

    Ford has overseen an impressive rebuilding of the party to its present achievements. His prior position as party secretary probably helped him in this. I see Stephen Farry as being possibly a future leader–maybe after Long, who I see as being the next party leader if she loses the next Westminster election. I don’t think that she will be willing to serve as party leader while she is an MP. So the question is, if she is reelected in the next general election does Ford step down at that point or continue on as leader through her entire term?