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MLA News

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    7 PM yesterday
    An Alliance delegation has met with senior management in Bombardier to discuss recent job losses and the anti-competitive actions from Boeing against the company.


    The implications of Brexit were also raised by the delegation, which included Deputy Leader Stephen Farry and East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle. It follows the party's further discussions on the Boeing situation with representatives of the US Government, the Secretary of State and the Civil Service.

    "Our meeting was dominated by the situation with Boeing. Their charges and claims against Bombardier are without foundation, and in turn represent anti-competitive actions aimed at shutting Bombardier out of the lucrative US aviation market," said Dr Farry.

    "We also reviewed recent job announcements and sought assurances of support and signposting for those individuals affected. In addition, we discussed the implications of Brexit on the operations of a company such as Bombardier, and the importance of avoiding a customs frontier and the loss of access to European research funding."

    "Bombardier is a major employer in Belfast and Northern Ireland as whole in its own right, and is serviced by a wide supply chain," added Mr Lyttle.

    "It is really important we take this challenge seriously, and political parties and governments push strongly to defend Bombardier and to ensure fair competition globally.

    "Alliance has already spoken to a range of stakeholders in relation to this process and will continue to do so over the coming days."

  • Stewart Dickson profile pic 1
    3 PM yesterday

    Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said the devolution settlement is being rewritten without any input from Northern Ireland due to the political impasse.


    Mr Dickson was speaking as the Scottish and Welsh Governments published proposals for changing legislation relating to the EU Withdrawal Bill. The two First Ministers said the Bill should "work with, not against, devolution," adding it would need to be "substantially amended" before they are able to recommend legislative consent is given by their respective Parliaments.

    "While the devolved Scottish and Welsh Governments are proposing amendments to this Bill in order to ensure powers remain with the devolved institutions, the lack of a functioning Executive and operational Assembly means Northern Ireland has no input or voice.," said Mr Dickson.

    "The political vacuum means the devolution settlement is being rewritten around us but we have no say in it. In normal circumstances we would be hopeful the Assembly would be in a position to pass a legislative consent motion on this issue, but local accountability has effectively been removed.

    "Brexit is the biggest challenge facing this region in decades. The majority of voters in Northern Ireland voted to remain within the EU. It is vital their interests are represented and there is an Assembly there to advocate those views so we do not miss out in these negotiations."
  • Probation Board rally - David Ford, Stephen Farry and Stewart Dickson
    1 PM yesterday

    Alliance MLA David Ford has led a party delegation to show support for Probation Board staff operating under threat.


    Mr Ford, along with colleagues including Stephen Farry MLA and Stewart Dickson MLA, attended a rally outside the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) headquarters in Belfast today (Tuesday).

    It follows the PBNI being informed of an increase in the risk of attack they face from dissident republicans, with employees living and working in republican areas especially at risk.

    "This rally saw those from politics, unions, social workers and others stand shoulder to shoulder with the PBNI workers to utterly condemn these threats," former Justice Minister Mr Ford said.

    "The work of PBNI staff goes right across our community, helping people with housing, employment and education among other matters. They play a fundamental role in the transformation of prisoners and their reintegration into society.

    "We once again call for these disgraceful threats to be lifted immediately, allowing probation staff to work in a safe and secure environment."
  • Trevor Lunn20172
    11 AM yesterday

    Alliance representatives in Lisburn have called on the DUP to clarify their position after controversial social media comments calling for the allocation of new social housing to those from the 'loyalist/unionist community'.


    The comments appear in a Facebook post by the Seymour Hill and Conway Residents Association and Youth Council this past Friday, which asks those in need of housing or in private rental to express their interest in the new social housing development on the old Dunmurry High School site in Seymour Hill.

    The post goes on to ask interested parties to call in and see local DUP Councillor Jonathan Craig, who will help fill in forms, adding 'let's get these houses filled up with people from the loyalist/unionist community'.

    Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn said it raised a number of questions for Councillor Craig and the DUP.

    "It will be interesting to hear if Councillor Craig and the wider DUP agrees with the Association's approach, which appears to be to make sure if this badly needed development is populated only by people who identify as loyalist or unionist. If that is the case, how genuine is the party's supposed commitment to fair treatment and equality?

    "We need urgent clarification from Councillor Craig and the DUP, who should disassociate themselves immediately from this post. I would also be interested in hearing if the residents of Seymour Hill feel the association still speaks for them after this statement?"

    "It is deeply troubling there is a public suggestion the residents' association only supports one section of the community being allocated housing in this or any other development," added Alliance Lisburn Councillor Alderman Stephen Martin.

    "The association receives public money from Lisburn and Castlereagh Council. They may wish to investigate if is this the only matter being directed to the benefit of one group of people."
  • Stephen Farry profile pic 2
    4 PM Monday

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said even full partnership with the various mechanisms within the EU is not a proper substitute for full membership within it.

    Dr Farry was responding to the UK Government's publication of its proposals relating to future partnership with the EU regarding security, law enforcement and criminal justice. He added given threats from organised crime and terrorism locally, this should be a crucial area for ongoing discussion.

    "It should be acknowledged the UK Government is proposing a deeper level of ongoing co-operation in these areas than any other aspect of Brexit so far. This reflects the absolute centrality of protecting the public from an ever-growing range of threats transnational in nature. No state can afford to go it alone in addressing them. It is vital to accept the reality of our interdependence and to fully embed co-operation.

    "But while the UK will seek a level of co-operation beyond any other third party arrangement at present, even a full partnership with the various mechanisms within the EU will not be a proper substitute for full membership and participation within them. There will be complications in terms of the equivalent domestic legislation in other EU countries, data sharing, and the need for jurisdiction of an arbitration mechanism if the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice is not to apply.

    "These matters must be of particular concern to us in Northern Ireland given our ongoing threats from organised crime and terrorism. There is a need to ensure co-operation with the criminal justice agencies here and the Republic, which have developed so well over recent years, can be protected and enhanced. The last thing we need is for gaps to open up to be exploited."

  • Kellie Armstrong
    4 PM Monday

    Alliance Infrastructure spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has encouraged people to seek guidance in the wake of Ryanair cancelling a number of flights over the next six weeks.


    The airline announced its plans to cancel up to 50 flights a day for the time period due to a shortage of pilots thanks to holiday entitlement. Up to 400,000 passengers could be affected.

    Ms Armstrong said compensation could be on the cards for those impacted.

    "Under EU guidelines, passengers are entitled to assistance and compensation for a disruption within an airline's control, while full refunds should be offered for flights cancelled at short notice. In addition, people are entirely within their rights to claim compensation from the airline.

    "I would encourage passengers who may be affected by this matter to seek advice from organisations such as the Consumer Council, who will be able to help them discover what the best option is for them."
  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    3 PM Monday

    Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said "the DUP and Sinn Fein are painting themselves into even tighter corners" and failing to take into account the untold damage to public services and the economy from the ongoing impasse.


    Dr Farry said while Alliance supported an Irish Language Act, they did not see it as a pre-condition for the return of Government. However, the matter did need resolved before a way forward could be found.

    "Time is marching on, and we are seeing little evidence of substantial movement between the DUP and Sinn Fein on the key issues frustrating the return of devolved power-sharing. Every day this crisis continues, we are seeing untold damage being inflicted on our public services and our economy is being held back.

    "Instead, the trenches being dug ever deeper for a long-term game of attrition, and publicly the parties painting themselves into tighter corners, especially relating to an Irish Language Act.

    "Alliance does support an Irish Language Act but it should not be a red-line issue for anyone. Being realistic politically, it is hard to see how a resolution to the formation of government can be found without some agreement on language issues. Crucially, irrespective of anyone's views on such an Act, the scale of what is involved in conceding it or addressing the issue in another way, is dwarfed by the scale of the damage to our economy and wider society on a daily basis due to this impasse.

    "It is well past time for more realistic discussions on what is involved in a resolution. Yet on one side, we have Sinn Fein unable to fully explain what they are seeking in terms of an Irish Language Act and on the other, the DUP and other voices within unionism scaremongering about what such an Act would contain, and the implications arising from it. They both need to step back and gain perspective, get real and get the job done before it's too late."
  • Chris Lyttle
    11 AM Monday

    This week's Community Relations Week is an opportunity to showcase how we successfully build a united community, Chris Lyttle MLA has said.


    East Belfast MLA Mr Lyttle, who is hosting a Community Relations Week event on the role of education in a post-conflict society in Parliament Buildings later this week, said this year's theme of 'Safe Space, Shared Place' was a chance to celebrate all aspects of our culture and heritage together.

    "Community Relations Week offers a wide range of events and opportunities for people right across Northern Ireland to get involved, and to meet and learn about other communities and cultures. By being a welcoming society, our region becomes a better place to live for everyone in it.

    "The event I am sponsoring around the role of education is particularly important - education is vital when it comes to building a united community, especially when the majority of young people today have no memory of the Troubles, peace process or even Good Friday Agreement.

    "The week is another opportunity to show the benefits of a united community by helping to break down barriers and improve integration, and I would encourage as many people as possible to participate in it."
  • Stewart Dickson
    3 PM Friday

    Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said lowering the voting age to 16 would help engage a new generation of young people in politics.

    Mr Dickson was speaking after attending the Northern Ireland Youth Forum's Democracy Day event, which featured a call to reduce the franchise to 16-years-old. He said young people should have the right to vote in elections across the UK.

    "It has been a long-standing Alliance policy to reduce the voting age to 16, and we have previously supported calls for it in both Assembly and Westminster elections. It is a move which was especially successful in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, with many 16 and 17-year-olds taking the opportunity to have their voice heard by voting.

    "If young people at 16 are old enough to work, join the armed forces and pay taxes, then it is only right they have a say in who makes those key decisions and how taxes are spent. If you pay taxes, then you deserve representation.

    "Young people here are being left behind - by reducing the voting age we can encourage more of them to take an interest and get involved in the democratic process while still in education.

    "We must show young people we regard them as equal citizens. Many of the decisions taken today will shape the rest of their lives, so it is vital they have a say in them."

  • David Ford
    3 PM Friday

    Alliance MLA David Ford has condemned those responsible for the threat to the staff of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI).

    The comments came after the PBNI said it was informed of an increase in the risk of attack they face from dissident republicans. The organisation said the risk may be higher for employees living and working in republican areas.

    Former Justice Minister Mr Ford said probation staff provided an essential service to the people of Northern Ireland.

    "They are responsible for the supervision of offenders, but they do so as social workers, helping individuals with housing, employment and education by building positive relationships. They also do so with offenders from every kind of background.

    "Their work is valued by many voluntary and community groups with whom they partner. Probation in Northern Ireland is among the most successful services in these islands.

    "I utterly condemn those who are now threatening this group of public servants and call on them to immediately lift the threat, and allow probation staff to work freely without hindrance."

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