Alliance declines the opportunity to nominate Justice minister

The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry, leader David Ford and Naomi Long pictured leaving Hillsborough Castle after crucial talks. 

Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry, leader David Ford and Naomi Long pictured leaving Hillsborough Castle after crucial talks. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Alliance will decline the opportunity to nominate an MLA as Justice Minister, the party’s leader has said.

David Ford said the “negative DUP and Sinn Fein response to Alliance’s proposals,” on issues such as education and the Troubles legacy, had left the party leadership with no choice.

Alliance’s ‘five steps’ proposals contained in its election manifesto were largely rejected by the two most dominant parties.

The Alliance decision is expected to be ratified on Thursday night when the party’s ruling council meets in Belfast.

Mr Ford said: “Alliance submitted a paper to the DUP and Sinn Fein on Tuesday outlining where we believed movement could be made and today they responded.

“It is clear we are not on the same page when it comes to seeking progress for our society and as such, I cannot recommend to Alliance Party Council this evening we take the Justice portfolio.

“There has rightly been public frustration over the repeated failures of other parties in the Executive and a different approach is undoubtedly needed. Alliance does not want more stop-start politics but rather is concerned with taking Northern Ireland forward faster.

“We sought reassurances the DUP and Sinn Fein agreed with us on fundamental reforms to benefit our community. However, judging by their response, that is not the case.”

Mr Ford added: “The proposals Alliance put to the DUP and Sinn Fein were ambitious and would have moved Northern Ireland forward. We have engaged constructively throughout this entire process, with delivering for our community foremost in our minds.

“It is clear there is a problem for the DUP and Sinn Fein to resolve in terms of finding a Justice Minister but they have rejected our solution. It is now up to them to resolve the problem over the next six days.”

The ‘five steps’ proposals put forward include: a reduction in the use of Petitions of Concern; a change in the Executive’s commitment to integrated education; a timetable for resolving legacy issues; an investment in skills in universities and an independent of the cost of division with Stormont departments.