Alliance now second party to back the deal

The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry, David Ford and  Nula Mcallister.
The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry, David Ford and Nula Mcallister.

The Alliance Party has formally backed the Stormont House Agreement, but still expressed concern about what it says are major unresolved issues.

Until now Sinn Fein was the only Stormont Executive party to have backed the deal, with the UUP executive having called for more detail and the SDLP and DUP having not yet formally met to decide their positions.

The five parties reached broad agreement on December 23 on some key issues.

“The executive echoed my concerns that too much of the document merely reflects a deal to do a deal,” Alliance leader David Ford said yesterday after his party executive backed the deal.

“It is not the comprehensive agreement that Alliance had hoped for and falls short of the public’s expectations.”

Mr Ford said the strongest part of the deal was “the commitment to deal with the legacy of the past”. However he said his party had “real concerns that other aspects of the proposals reflect only a partial agreement”.

“There was a missed opportunity to deliver a consistent Northern Ireland-wide policy for the official display of flags and we are left with the prospect of further discussion on parading with continuing problems,” he said.

“Alliance welcomes the financial package that accompanies the agreement, but would caution against any suggestion that it will resolve all our budgetary problems.

“The belated deal on welfare is something that could have been agreed two years ago, avoiding the squandering of over £100m in penalties.”

The SDLP has voiced disappointment about the deal although the DUP says it is “the most comfortable we’ve ever been with any deal”.