Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

MLA News

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    2:16 PM

    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed that new initiatives on suicide prevention are ongoing despite the lack of a Minister but added a quick and public evaluation will be necessary.

    The South Belfast MLA was speaking after Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride said a new strategy had been finalised but to date had been unable to be published without Ministerial endorsement.

    "There remains a legitimate concern decision-making cannot go on accountably with no Minister in place, but it is essential initiatives on suicide prevention continue anyway and it is welcome they are ongoing," she said.

    "The issue is not so much the new strategy has not been published, but that we will be unable to see a prompt evaluation of whether the new initiatives are making a difference.

    "As it is inconceivable any party would oppose ongoing work in this area, I would urge all relevant agencies to continue implementation of new initiatives to prevent suicide, but also to evaluate them swiftly to make sure they are being implemented as effectively as possible."

  • John Blair
    2 PM yesterday
    Alliance South Antrim MLA John Blair has said he is disappointed after Norwegian Air confirmed it was pulling its transatlantic routes from Belfast International Airport.

    The airline, who launched the flights to New York and Boston last year, said they would not be continuing following a review of its services. The last flight is now due to be at the end of October.

    "This is a disappointing move that has the potential to be a major economic blow for Northern Ireland," said Mr Blair.

    "To lose a direct air route between Northern Ireland and the United States is a setback for businesses, as well as tourists. I know huge efforts have been made by the International Airport to improve services and the number of flights there, and I commend them for that.

    "Undoubtedly, one major factor impacting Belfast International Airport's ability to compete is air passenger duty. Air transport here already faces challenges due to geography, so air passenger duty even further disproportionately affects the airport and others. If it was removed or reduced, it could see airlines return services and travellers facing fewer costs.

    "When the Executive returns, one of its priorities must be to develop a clear strategy on attracting other airlines as a matter of urgency, to develop our air links and grow our economy."
  • Stephen Farry
    1 PM Sunday

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has called for the rhetoric against the backstop to be de-escalated and the wider political and economic interests of Northern Ireland to be understood, compared to the distorted views of the DUP.

    "This is a time of huge political crisis for the UK and for Northern Ireland in particular. The major outstanding issue in the Withdrawal Agreement relates to finalising the backstop to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland and to protect the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

    "Our future is being determined over our heads. But not only does Northern Ireland not have any formal voice, but the interests of this region are being badly distorted and misrepresented by the DUP and in turn amplified through the confidence and supply arrangement.

    "The UK Government and Opposition are risking a catastrophic no-deal Brexit based on a counter-productive and short-sighted political agenda, a disregard of the political and economic interests of Northern Ireland, and a misunderstanding of the Agreement. The DUP are potentially dragging down not only Northern Ireland but the UK as a whole.

    "The rhetoric around the backstop being a breach of the Principle of Consent and a constitutional problem is simply wrong. Northern Ireland already does many things differently through devolution, including aspects of economic policy. The backstop if ever implemented would only build upon these precedents.

    "Northern Ireland is already a different and special place. It only works on the basis of sharing and interdependence. And while it remains part of the UK through the Principle of Consent, the internal, north-south, and east-west relationships all need to co-exist in harmony and balance.

    "While all forms of Brexit would be damaging, special arrangements for Northern Ireland that build upon the backstop would allow the region to be part of both the UK market and the larger EU markets at the same time, and provide some comparative advantage that could be attractive to investment. It would be a tragedy of narrow politics meant that this potential transformative opportunity was passed up.

    "It is time for a de-escalation of the rhetoric against the backstop and for a more realistic and mature assessment and understanding of the road ahead."

  • 1 PM Sunday

    Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has condemned a paramilitary-style assault on a teenager outside Ballymoney, and said there needs to be a continued challenge to those behind such incidents.

    The incident happened around 3.30am today (Sunday) at a property in Moneycannon Road. The 18-year-old was shot once in each arm and leg by intruders. He was taken to hospital, where his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

    "There can be no acceptance for such attacks. Paramilitary assaults and coercive control must always be challenged," said Mr Dickson.

    "Those with knowledge behind this and other similar brutal and vile attacks need to come forward and provide information to the police. This scourge on our society must be addressed. Far too often, those responsible for such attacks escape justice and there is a sense of impunity to their actions.

    "It is important all stakeholders support the implementation of the Paramilitary Action Plan and the work of the PSNI's Paramilitary Taskforce, and stress the importance of effective policing in the community and the development of a culture of lawfulness."

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    5 PM Friday

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said the Prime Minister's escalation of language around Brexit negotiations is a potentially "grave and historic mistake".

    Dr Farry was speaking after Theresa May said talks had reached an impasse, with the rejection of her Chequers Plan by the EU as "not acceptable".

    "The Prime Minister has placed the UK in a massive hole and rather than stop digging she has ordered a JCB," he said.

    "There is little point in lashing out at the EU. It is the UK leaving the EU, not the other way around. The Chequers Plan was developed in a bubble, and there have been plenty of warnings from the EU it wouldn't work.

    "The plan doesn't respect the fundamental choices facing the UK - the only options to avoid a hard border in Ireland after Brexit are either the UK remaining in a Customs Union and the Single Market or the provision of special arrangements for Northern Ireland,

    "Time is rapidly running out to conclude a withdrawal agreement and transition deal. This requires prompt agreement on the backstop for Northern Ireland. This is not a political and constitutional crisis but a pragmatic and economic intervention.

    "In dramatically escalating the rhetoric, the Prime Minister and her DUP allies are backing the UK into a corner, and making a potentially grave and historic mistake."

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 2
    4 PM Thursday

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said the only options to avoid a hard border in Ireland after Brexit are either the UK remaining in the EU's economic mechanisms or special arrangements for Northern Ireland, after Donald Tusk effectively rejected elements of the UK Government's Chequers Plan.

    "This Government is walking the UK closer and closer to the cliff-edge. This clear rejection of the Chequers Plan by Donald Tusk is not a surprise," said Dr Farry.

    "It should always have been evident the plan was never going to be workable or consistent with the possible options for a future relationship with the EU.

    "It has always been the case there are only two routes to ensuring an open border on the island of Ireland and protecting the Good Friday Agreement - either the UK as a whole remaining within the Single Market and forming a new Customs Union, or putting in place special arrangements for Northern Ireland. Chequers was an ill-fated fudge to keep the government together which ignored this reality.

    "Time is running out to agree a withdrawal agreement and transition deal. The exuberant confidence around a no deal scenario fools nobody. People's jobs and livelihoods are at stake. The immediate imperative is to reach agreement on the backstop as a safety net for Northern Ireland. The UK Government and DUP rhetoric around constitutional threats needs to de-escalate rapidly if the fundamental economic and political interests of the UK and in particular Northern Ireland are to be protected."

  • 3 PM Thursday

    Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said Ian Paisley should not be celebrating a victory after retaining his seat as an MP.

    Mr Paisley will not face a by-election after just under 10 per cent of North Antrim constituents signed a recall petition calling for his resignation after he failed to declare two paid for Sri Lankan holidays. He subsequently lobbied against the UK supporting a UN resolution on human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan Government and was suspended as an MP for 30 days.

    "In any other part of the UK, Ian Paisley would have had to resign in disgrace," said Ms Armstrong.

    "But the fact he was allowed to get away with his actions relatively scot-free shows many people here are still too focused on the divisions in our community at the expense of everything else. As long as that remains the case to the detriment of proper standards of government, we will continue to have scandals such as this, RHI and Nama.

    "Alliance registered as an official campaigner during the recall petition period, encouraging people to sign. It is therefore disappointing to see it has not been successful. However, the narrative from some that Ian Paisley would be automatically returned in any by-election was unhelpful, as it made many people think it was pointless. That was not the case and indeed, the DUP may have been forced to go up against him in any poll.

    "In any case, this is not a victory for Ian Paisley. Talking about his 'endorsement' from the electorate shows he may not have learned anything but the fact is he remains an MP - a disgraced one. He has nothing to be proud of and should show some humility from this entire sorry episode.

    "This was the first recall petition opened in the UK. These should be important methods of accountability, especially when political parties are incapable of self-policing. It is important lessons are learned from this first exercise in implementation."

  • Kellie Armstrong
    3 PM Wednesday
    Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong has said Northern Ireland Water needs to learn from its mistakes after it was fined £80,000 for pollution incidents.

    The company was hit with a £60,000 for two separate discharges from a sewage treatment works in Killinchy, County Down in 2017. It was also fined £20,000 for a fish kill near Castlewellan in 2016 in which 1,900 fish died.

    Ms Armstrong said the fine was there as an important deterrent.

    "We have long been supportive of NI Water's efficiency savings but that does not mean they can ignore their responsibilities in relation to environmental accountability. That is especially true as it comes only months after NI Water was fined £40,000 for spillage into the Moyola River.

    "Alliance has been speaking to residents in Killinchy about the long-term issues there and their concerns have now been borne out with the findings and subsequent fine.

    "It is vital the company learns from its mistakes and does not repeat them. The last thing we want to see is a recurrence of the incidents."
  • Kellie Armstrong
    1 PM Wednesday
    Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has criticised the UK Government after it confirmed an under the radar change to passport rules.

    Until recently, when a person renewed their passport, any time remaining on the existing document would be added to the new one, up to a maximum of nine months. However, from last week, renewed passports will now be valid from the date of issue for ten years, so any unused months will be lost.

    "Many countries require you to have up to six months left on your passport when entering," said Ms Armstrong.

    "Until last week, any remaining months on your passport would have been added to your new one. But now there is no point applying early for a passport, as people will lose those extra months and effectively lose money. It makes more sense to now leave your renewal as late as possible, which will lead to massive backlogs.

    "The UK Government has confirmed this is part of preparations for a no-deal Brexit, bringing this major change in extremely quietly with no public announcement.

    "It is inevitably going to mean some people will find they don't have enough validity remaining on their passport when they try to enter certain countries, leading to confusion and a negative impact on those with British passports."
  • Naomi Long
    10 AM Wednesday

    Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said the people of North Antrim have a few hours left to make their voices heard, before the recall petition against Ian Paisley closes.

    The three locations across the constituency will close at 5pm today, with counting taking place from midnight. If 10 per cent of eligible electors sign it, a by-election against the suspended MP will be triggered.

Recent Photos

Alliance TV