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MLA News

  • 1 PM Friday

    Alliance East Belfast MLA Naomi Long has praised police after four victims of human trafficking were rescued and two men arrested.

    One woman was rescued from a property on the Newtownards Road in East Belfast, while three were found at a property at Kenlis Street in Banbridge. One man was arrested in East Belfast, while another was arrested in Banbridge. Police revealed the arrests were part of an extensive investigation into an organised criminal gang with Eastern European links.

    The men were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, controlling prostitution and money laundering.

    "I want to praise police for their actions in rescuing four women from the horrors of human trafficking," said Mrs Long.

    "It is a sickening crime carried out by heartless individuals, and is nothing more than modern day slavery. My thoughts are with the women, who must have gone through unimaginable ordeals before their rescue. I hope they now receive whatever care and support they need.

    "This crime can only be stopped with the help of the public. I would ask everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicions to the police immediately."
  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    12 PM Friday

    Alliance South Belfast Westminster candidate Paula Bradshaw has said there is no further excuse for any delay in establishing an Executive to tackle waiting lists and deliver on health transformation.

    Ms Bradshaw stated: "The Executive should be up and operational, facing up to the real challenges to our public services and the need for a proper reform process in health and social care.

    "Parties received a mandate in March and with that comes a responsibility to deal with key issues such as waiting lists. What is required is an absolute commitment from all to implement the health transformation process as outlined by Professor Bengoa's panel, and an absolute assurance they will get on with the job as soon as possible.

    "That is the way to deliver a reduction in waiting lists for good. Anything less than that will confirm the increasingly common view some parties are simply running away from their responsibility to govern on behalf of people and their families currently experiencing great concern and stress as they wait for vital treatment or diagnoses."

  • Kellie Armstrong
    1 PM Thursday

    Alliance Strangford Westminster candidate Kellie Armstrong has said a hard border following Brexit could see the end of a burgeoning trade route between Northern Ireland and China.

    The Belt and Road Initiative seeks to increase trade links from China across Europe, with a major event this month promoting it attracting over 130 countries and 70 international organisations. The UK has joined up, with a cargo train recently completing a round trip between China and London to mark the occasion.

    Ms Armstrong, who recently visited China as part of an Assembly Business Trust delegation, said assurances needed to be given to ensure the route was not affected due to Brexit.

    "The Belt and Road Initiative provides a new opportunity for collaboration, and Northern Ireland has been specifically mentioned as a future participant. In recent years, relations between ourselves and China have increased, as has cooperation in the fields of the economy, trade and the economy especially.

    "However, that is undoubtedly under threat due to Brexit and the danger of a hard border. Despite the best intentions of many involved, Brexit is going to see borders established, it is just a matter of where they go and what shape they take. A clear agreement with the EU is needed to be able to access the rail export connection as demonstrated.

    "We also need a functioning Executive to articulate our position and ensure such opportunities are not missed. Northern Ireland needs to tap into the huge potential the Belt and Road Initiative provides, and build development strategies with China and other participants. We can play a full role and reap the benefits or miss out thanks to deadlock and hard borders. The choice is simple."
  • Sorcha Eastwood2
    10 AM Thursday

    Alliance Westminster West Belfast candidate Sorcha Eastwood has expressed her concern after a nine-year old boy was left critically ill after coming into contact with a hazardous substance at a local bonfire site.

    Police have been clearing the scene at Glenwood Street since the situation emerged.

    Miss Eastwood said: "It is extremely worrying to hear a young boy has been left seriously ill due to the thoughtlessness of fly-tippers in the area. My thoughts are with the young boy and his family, and I would urge parents to keep an eye on others who could have come into contact with this substance.

    "I also encourage all bonfire organisers to fully engage with the Council's Bonfire Scheme, designed to keep local communities safe. It is for this reason tyres and other items are often removed, ensuring the safety of local people is upheld at all times.

    "If anyone has any information of those behind this illegal dump I would ask them to contact the PSNI as soon as possible."
  • 7 AM Tuesday
    Alliance Leader Naomi Long has expressed her sympathy and condolences to the people of Manchester, following a suspected terrorist attack in the city last night.

    Police have confirmed 22 people died and 59 were injured following a concert by US singer Ariana Grande. It is believed a lone attacker detonated an explosive device.

    "This news is absolutely heartbreaking, especially when you consider how many children and teenagers will have been at this concert," said Mrs Long.

    "My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Manchester, particularly the bereaved and injured. My deepest thanks also go to the emergency services, who had to deal with the aftermath.

    "Those behind these attacks cannot be allowed to win. They try to threaten our very way of life but in doing so, inspire people to show the best of humanity by presenting generosity and compassion. That is proof good will triumph over evil.

    "As a mark of respect to those killed and injured, Alliance will also be suspending General Election campaigning activity today."

  • Naomi Long
    last Sunday

    Alliance East Belfast Westminster candidate Naomi Long has said voters should ask parties for their stance on political donors ahead of the election.

    The Alliance Leader said some parties had confusing and contradictory positions on the matter, on one hand calling for transparency but on the other not revealing donors voluntarily, unlike Alliance.

  • Sorcha Eastwood and Stephen Farry at Irish Language march
    last Saturday
    Alliance Party elected representatives have joined thousands of people in Belfast at a rally calling for an Irish Language Act.

    The march started at An Chulturlann on the Falls Road before making its way to City Hall. It called for the introduction of such an Act at the next Assembly.

    "Alliance recognises the need for legislation to protect and promote the Irish language. We are open to negotiation with other parties as to precisely what should be contained within such an Act. Events such as today's are important to show that support goes right across the community," said Alliance West Belfast candidate Sorcha Eastwood.

    "Despite the political football the Irish language has become in recent months, we must remember it is for people from all backgrounds and the entire community. It is part of our shared culture and heritage."

    Alliance South Belfast Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown said it followed the party's support of an Irish language officer for Belfast City Council and launching its language policy for the city.

    "Belfast City Council has recently led the way in showing what a diverse and multi-cultural city Belfast is, despite opposition from some unionist councillors. When well-known activists from unionist backgrounds such as Linda Ervine advocate for Irish and DUP leader Arlene Foster engages positively with the sector, it shows what a unifying effect the language can have.

    "Irish belongs to everybody, threatens nobody, and is a language of art, poetry, music and much more. I look forward to the next Assembly passing an Act."

  • last Saturday
    Alliance MLA Naomi Long has expressed her condolences after a pensioner died following a collision with a vehicle in East Belfast.

    Patrick McDermott (79) was knocked down on the Albertbridge Road at its junction with Castlereagh Street yesterday (Friday) around 3.30pm. It is believed he was struck by a lorry.

    Mrs Long offered her condolences to the loved ones of the deceased.

    "My thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr McDermott at this sad time. The local community will be in shock at this tragedy.

    "Unfortunately, this is an example of how dangerous our roads can be for both pedestrians and drivers. I would encourage all road users and motorists to take extreme care at all times, and be vigilant of others.

    "If anyone has any information on this incident, I would urge them to contact police immediately."

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    last Thursday

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry has said the Conservatives' approach to Brexit, discussed in the party's manifesto, will be "especially damaging" to Northern Ireland.

    Dr Farry said the manifesto, launched today, was part of the Conservatives' "foolish commitment" to a hard Brexit.

    "This manifesto spells out the basis of a hard Brexit. While the people of the UK may have narrowly voted for Brexit, they made no distinction between a hard Brexit and a soft Brexit. The Conservatives are now reinforcing their foolish commitment to leave the EU Single Market and the Customs Union.

    "Instead, they are placing all their faith in securing free trade deals, without understanding or recognising whatever relationships they can salvage will be inferior to what the UK currently has with the EU and its potential to secure wider trade relationships with other parts of the world. The blinkered determination to crack down on immigration also stands totally at odds with the economic vision of being outward looking and open to the rest of the world.

    "This particular approach is especially damaging to Northern Ireland. This region can only work on the basis of sharing and interdependence, but Brexit entails new divisions and barriers.

    "This Conservative manifesto reinforces the need for the three-point Alliance approach of opposing a hard Brexit for the UK, seeking a special deal for Northern Ireland and supporting a second referendum on the outcome of the negotiations versus staying in the EU."
  • Paula Bradshaw profile pic 2
    last Thursday

    Alliance South Belfast Westminster candidate Paula Bradshaw has said the SDLP is trading in the politics of fear after its leader Colum Eastwood appealed for unionists to vote for his party to stop Sinn Fein.

    Ms Bradshaw said the plea "smacked of desperation" in a bid to save the SDLP's Westminster seats.

    "Colum Eastwood claimed his party represents everyone but in the same breath admitted the SDLP is a nationalist party. By its very definition, it cannot therefore provide fair representation to everyone.

    "In South Belfast for example, which is the most open and diverse constituency in Northern Ireland, people should have representatives who can stand up for everyone, not just one section of the community.

    "This just smacks of desperation and gives into the politics of fear. What about everyone who doesn't identify as unionist or nationalist? We have had enough of sectarian headcounts. Alliance is the only party able to challenge both unionism and nationalism in South Belfast and beyond, as evidenced at the most recent Assembly election.

    "We are best placed to give people the choice they deserve in this election, representing the entire community while rejecting the politics of division."

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