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MLA News

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 2
    last Wednesday

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said MPs should have already been well aware of the reasons for and the nature of the backstop.

    Dr Farry was speaking following publication of the Attorney General's full advice regarding the UK's future arrangements with the EU.

    "No one in Parliament should really be surprised or shocked at legal advice on the backstop. Its nature and purpose should have been evident to anyone following the negotiations over the past 18 months.

    "The need for a backstop only arises due to the decision of the UK to leave the EU and the Government ruling out soft Brexit options around a Customs Union and the Single Market. Northern Ireland only works on the basis of sharing and interdependence. People and businesses work on the basis of both north-south and east-west interactions. Brexit risks new friction and barriers.

    "The backstop is the minimum necessary to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to avoid a hard border. It needs to be there until and unless something better comes along. If there is a cut-off date or if it can be unilaterally broken, then the backstop is not a genuine insurance policy.

    "The EU continues to be clear this type of backstop is integral to any Withdrawal Agreement, and it is wishful thinking to believe a different approach to withdrawal can be taken. The backstop was originally devised to cover Northern Ireland only, but it was the Government sought to extend this UK-wide.

  • last Tuesday

    Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has described the shooting dead of a man outside schools in West Belfast as "a disgusting and depraved crime".

    Dr Farry was speaking after the man was shot dead on the Glen Road at 3pm, close to three schools in the area. It's believed he was parked close to one at the time.

    "This was a disgusting and depraved crime, made all the more heinous by the fact it was so close to a number of schools who were getting out at the time," he said.

    "I utterly condemn this killing - those who carried it out must be taken off our streets immediately. It was a reckless act which could have resulted in the additional injury or even worse of schoolchildren.

    "My thoughts are with the loved ones of the deceased following this murder. We must also ensure any pupils who were in the vicinity at the time are given whatever support they need.

    "If anyone has any information on this shooting, I urge them to contact police with it immediately."

  • Paula Bradshaw profile pic 1
    last Tuesday
    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has commended Marie Curie for its work outlining the challenges faced by older carers in a new report.

    The report, entitled Lost Retirement, makes a series of recommendations including all health and social care professionals having a statutory duty to identify older carers and refer them for support, and older carers should have access to high-quality replacement care to help them take a break from caring.

    "I welcome this report, which will contribute to the important debate about how we provide health and social care to our ageing population. With increased life expectancy comes increasingly complex health needs as people advance in years, and these needs are often attended to by other older family members or friends.

  • Chris Lyttle profile pic 1
    last Tuesday

    Alliance East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle has visited a local Royal Mail postal depot to see first-hand the operation of delivering Christmas post by its staff.

    Chris was shown around the Prince Regent Road office by delivery office staff and was introduced to the postmen and women, who will be pulling out all the stops to sort and deliver mail throughout East Belfast in the busy Christmas period.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 2
    28 November

    Alliance Party Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry MLA, has responded to the publication of economic analysis from HM Treasury indicating a slowdown in economic growth in all Brexit scenarios.

    Stephen Farry said: "There is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit. Any form of Brexit entails a weakening of the current level of economic interaction the UK has with its closest neighbours through the European Union. That cannot be replaced by other trade deals or arrangements.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 2
    25 November

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has expressed sadness at the conclusion of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, saying it is not a moment for celebration.

    Dr Farry added the backstop must be the "bare minimum" for the way forward, and cannot be "diluted or negotiated downwards".

    He was speaking after EU leaders approved the agreement on the UK's withdrawal.

    "There is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit. The EU has been central to economic opportunities for the UK as whole, and for reinforcing peace and progress across Europe and here in Northern Ireland. Therefore the conclusion of the Withdrawal Agreement is not a moment of celebration but profound sadness," he said.

    "However, in the context of Brexit, this Withdrawal Agreement represents the best deal the UK is going to get. For Alliance, the backstop itself is absolutely vital to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to avoid a hard border.

    "The notion of the negotiations being reopened to ditch the backstop is delusional. The backstop is intrinsic to any Withdrawal Agreement. Moreover, the time to renegotiate before next March doesn't exist.

    "At the very least, the backstop now needs to be banked. The economic and constitutional arguments being deployed against it are entirely spurious. The future for this deal remains uncertain. A no deal situation must be avoided at all costs.

    "However, given all that has happened and what we now know, any opportunity to pursue a softer, EEA-style Brexit or to have a referendum should be taken. It is Alliance's preference Parliament puts this deal to a People's Vote."

  • Trevor Lunn20172
    23 November

    Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn has said potential suspension of freedom of information (FOI) requests by Executive Departments in the absence of Ministers is a "bizarre example" of the paralysis in Government here.

    Mr Lunn was speaking after the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said some FOI requests could not be processed due to there currently being no Ministers. Already the Public Records Office for Northern Ireland has said it is unable to fully process FOI requests relating to closed public records in the absence of a Minister for Communities. The ICO has now confirmed the absence of a Minister may also affect the ability of Departments to 'deal fully with certain information requests'.

    "This announcement is a bizarre example of the paralysis in Government here. My colleague Naomi Long MLA raised this matter with the Secretary of State yesterday but given Karen Bradley's performance to date, I don't hold out much hope things will change," he said.

    "It comes on the back of the distressing case of a terminally ill woman who had to answer a question on a Personal Independence Payment form to confirm the date of her passing - another issue deemed to be incapable of change due to the absence of a Minister. Alliance's Next Steps Forward proposals earlier this year would have seen Assembly committees reconstituted and legislation proceed, therefore removing this problem.

    "Common sense and basic humanity appear to be completely lacking in these and many other situations and as an administration, local Government is becoming a laughing stock. Issues big and small which require legislative change are blocked, apparently outside the scope of the increased authority given to civil servants.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    22 November
    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has reiterated there is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit, as a draft declaration on post-Brexit relations between the UK and EU was 'agreed in principle'.

    Dr Farry said: "The draft political declaration was always going to be vague and indeed contradictory. But it is not a formal legal text. This development at least allows the UK and EU to conclude this phase of the Brexit negotiations on Sunday.

    "Alliance continues to maintain there is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit, and our preference is Parliament puts the Withdrawal Agreement to a People's Vote, with Remain an option on the ballot.

    "The open-ended backstop remains absolutely central to any Withdrawal Agreement.

    "Much is being made of the further consideration of technological solutions to avoid a hard border. This is delusional and a distraction. Technology can only be a means to an end and not replace itself the border interface.

  • Paula Bradshaw profile pic 1
    22 November
    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed news health service staff will be able to receive pay rises of more than one per cent.
    The news comes as the Department of Health was allocated money following increased funding in the recent Westminster Budget.

    "News that money is now available from the Department of Finance for pay settlements in health and social care is welcome," said Ms Bradshaw.
  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    22 November

    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said the Department of Health's announcement it would consider the need for a cancer strategy for Northern Ireland is a positive step forward.

    Ms Bradshaw, who is Chair of the Assembly's All-Party Group on Cancer, was speaking after Department Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly said it would 'revisit' the commitment to consider the need for such a strategy following recent legislation giving civil servants more powers in the absence of Ministers. Northern Ireland is the only region of the UK without a cancer strategy.

    "As Chair, I have continued to convene monthly meetings, to bring together MLAs, cancer organisations and healthcare professionals, because we all want to improve care and treatment for cancer patients in Northern Ireland. Without fail, every single meeting has resulted in the collective conclusion we need a comprehensive strategy," she said.

    "We know from the NI Cancer Registry rates of cancer are rising year on year, we know from professionals working in cancer there is tremendous workforce pressures from diagnostic testing through to palliative care, we know from cancer charities research shows preventive and community educational work can prevent some cancers, and yet the Department of Health has repeatedly rejected calls for this cancer strategy until now.

    "A comprehensive cancer strategy will allow for all strands to be brought together into one place and reviewed and renewed, accordingly - from health prevention programmes, like vaccines, through to training adequate staffing across the range of roles, and ensuring our diagnostic kit is of optimal standard and quality, to delivering the treatment and care in locations allowing for ease of access, while ensuring the multi-disciplinary teams are complete and working effectively together.

    "This is a positive step forward in ensuring the Department of Health and the Health and Social Care Trusts deliver the standard of care our cancer patients require and desire."

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