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MLA News

  • Naomi Long
    4 PM yesterday

    Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said parties need to "get serious" after the Secretary of State said a short window of opportunity exists to reach a deal between the parties.

    James Brokenshire said there remained an "overwhelming desire" for devolved Government and would follow up with a full statement in the House of Commons tomorrow (Tuesday).

    "To date, this process has had no momentum to try and take us in the direction of any conclusion. However, it cannot continue indefinitely," said Mrs Long.

    "There needs to be drive shown by the parties involved - those holding things up cannot be allowed to drag things on any longer. While that has been frustrating and disappointing, there still exists an opportunity if people are committed to the talks.

    "It is unthinkable a project made up of 25 years of hope, time and effort from many quarters could be thrown away so lightly. If people are sincere about reaching a deal, there is no reason things cannot get serious immediately."
  • Naomi Long
    6 PM Sunday
    Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has described it as "extremely disappointing and frustrating" no agreement has been reached in the talks process, adding the consequences of failure were stark.

    Mrs Long was speaking after Sinn Fein said the discussions had run their course and it would not be nominating a deputy First Minister tomorrow.

    "The issues themselves have been on the table for many years and through many negotiations, so it is extremely disappointing and frustrating agreement has not been reached," she said.

    "The differences are not insurmountable and agreement within the three week timescale was achievable. However, whilst we remain available and willing to engage to ensure the 4pm Monday deadline is met and devolution restored, the prospect of that now looks remote.

    "While the obstacles to agreement are relatively minor, the consequences could not be more serious. For the first time in the 96-year history of Northern Ireland, we will be without any legal, political authority.

    "We are days away from the end of the financial year, yet there is no Budget. We are days from the triggering of Article 50, yet we have no Brexit plan. We are already overdue the Assembly vote needed to set next year's regional rate yet we have no Assembly. We have no Programme for Government and no Government to agree one.

    "Already in the voluntary and community sector and in our key public services like health and education, the effects of this political vacuum are being felt with restricted budgets, increased uncertainty and job losses. Parties owe it to those who rely on and who deliver vital services to continue to press for an urgent settlement.

    "Despite our anger at this failure, we remain committed to do all we can to resolve this impasse. There is no alternative to devolution that will resolve these issues or serve our constituents well - neither an election nor direct rule will solve anything.

    "Parties need to step up and get real, and give the British Government a good reason to give an extension to the talks process. That over 20 years of progress would be squandered so lightly is simply unthinkable."

  • Naomi Long, Conference 2017
    4 PM Saturday
    Alliance Leader Naomi Long has said her party is the radical alternative to the established politics, in her first Leader's Speech to the Alliance Party Conference.

    She added the ongoing talks process should not result in another election, as it would not solve the issues facing our society.

    "Voter turnout in the Assembly election was the highest we have seen since the first Assembly election after the Good Friday Agreement was signed. People saw the institutions in real jeopardy and the clear message they gave to all of us elected was they want to see devolution restored and delivering for them.

    "Alliance is up for that task and whatever is ahead - be it talks or elections, whether in Government or opposition - we will play a positive and constructive role in raising the standards of Government. We will push to move beyond the divisions of our past, of building peace and reconciliation, of driving forward a progressive, liberal, just and vibrant society.

    "Whilst others may secretly hanker for a period of direct rule or feel that another election may offer the chance of a better result for their party, we are clear neither will solve the problems which face us today."

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    2 PM Thursday

    Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has expressed shock after new figures revealed five child sex offences are recorded every day in Northern Ireland.

    Police said 1,809 sex crimes against children were reported here last year, the highest ever level and up five per cent on the previous year. A total of 777 crimes were recorded against children aged 11 and under, with 230 against those aged five and under.

    Ms Bradshaw, who sat on the Health Committee in the last Assembly, said the figures were deeply shocking.

    "When we consider there may also be many cases which are not recorded, we should be seriously disturbed by what is happening.

    "This is an issue upon which we need urgent cross-departmental working to address the problem as a matter of urgency.

    "I will be meeting the NSPCC this week to discuss this further and to see what practical action can be taken as a matter of urgency."
  • 8 PM Wednesday
    Alliance Leader Naomi Long has extended her sympathies to those affected by today's terrorist incident in London.

    Four people, including a police officer and the attacker, died after a car ploughed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before an attacker stabbed a police officer protecting Parliament. At least 20 people were injured in the incident.

    "My thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with the people of London and the loved ones of the victims affected by this incident. People across the world will stand with the city after today's event," said Mrs Long.

    "As a former MP, I always felt secure at Parliament due to the protection offered by the police officers there. They and other emergency services deserve praise for their quick response today.

    "This attack was on innocent members of the public - workers, shoppers and tourists. It was also an assault on the heart of the democratic institutions. We will not let those behind such acts of violence win out. We live in a liberal, democratic society and it is up to every one of us to redouble our efforts to ensure terrorism will not undermine that."

  • Trevor Lunn20172
    2 PM Wednesday

    Alliance Justice spokesperson Trevor Lunn MLA has hit out at those behind a device in Strabane, after PSNI confirmed it was an attempt to kill officers.

    The device exploded while officers were on patrol in the Co Tyrone town around 8.30pm yesterday (Tuesday).

    "This appears to have been a deliberate attempt to kill police," said Mr Lunn.

    "This type of attack achieves nothing except putting police officers, who are trying to protect the local community, in danger and diverting vital resources from other areas that might need them.

    "There is no justification for this attack. Any act of violence against police is an assault on the rule of law and everyone in our society.

    "I urge anyone with information to contact police with it immediately."
  • last Tuesday
    Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said she is saddened to learn of the death of former deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

    "On behalf of myself and my colleagues I would extend our heartfelt condolences to Bernie, to Martin's children and to the wider family circle on Martin's passing. They are very much in our thoughts and prayers at this sad time," she said.

    "I want to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication Martin invested as an MLA and as deputy First Minister to serving not only his constituents, but all of Northern Ireland.

    "Whilst our politics were very different and his past is well documented, the compromises he made, the leadership he demonstrated and his willingness to work with others despite those differences as part of the peace process helped secure the peace we all now enjoy.

    "For that, we are grateful and our best tribute to him would be to do all in our power to secure that peace and progress for future generations."

  • Naomi Long
    last Monday
    Alliance Leader Naomi Long has described as "surreal" the Prime Minister's plans to visit Northern Ireland but not get involved in ongoing talks designed to restore powersharing.

    Theresa May will visit Northern Ireland ahead of the triggering of Article 50, which will start the formal process of removing the UK from the EU. However, Mrs Long said it is almost unbelievable she would do so during the current devolution crisis and seek to remain outside of the ongoing talks.

    "Brexit is without doubt the biggest political, economic and social challenge to face Europe and the UK in a generation. It has also divided the UK deeply in terms not only of support for Brexit, but also the challenges it presents in each region.

    "The Prime Minister ought therefore to seek to discuss the matter with the devolved regions and be sensitive in seeking to represent their concerns, however, this whistle stop tour, far from demonstrating a willingness to engage and listen, seems to typify the lack of sensitivity to the particular challenges facing Northern Ireland, not least by the collapse of devolution.

    "It is quite surreal to think Theresa May would visit Northern Ireland at a time when the very future of powersharing hangs in the balance, yet not feel compelled to actively participate in the current talks process. It suggests a Prime Minister who is either oblivious to the perilous state of devolution or simply doesn't care.

    "At what is a critical time in the negotiations and in the Brexit process, I think it is important the Prime Minister considers carefully the message such non-engagement will send to the people of Northern Ireland regarding the importance of devolution and Northern Ireland's interests to her Government. Otherwise, what is intended to reassure people of her interest could spectacularly backfire."

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    last Monday

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry has said the triggering of Article 50 is leading the UK over a cliff-edge, after the Prime Minister said she would start the process next week.

    The two-year procedure will begin on Wednesday, March 29 when Theresa May officially notifies the EU. Dr Farry said there would be severe effects.

    "The triggering of Article 50 will be tantamount to the UK walking over a cliff-edge. There will be huge economic, social, financial and political consequences from Brexit, especially a hard landing.

    "Once Article 50 is triggered, the UK is severing its relationship with the EU, and there are no guarantees of what any replacement will be. The future relationship, including any extension of the UK's membership, will now be in the hands of the remaining 27 member states. But Alliance is clear any and all possible future arrangements will be lesser compared to what the UK has at present, and is set to throw away.

    "The need for a coherent and sustainable Executive to be put in place has become even more pressing. Northern Ireland needs a strong governmental voice to stand up and advocate for the interests of this region. The provision of a proper plan for Brexit needs to be a core component of any coalition agreement emerging from the current talks.

    "However, the UK Government also needs to make a much stronger statement recognising Northern Ireland has a range of particular and unique challenges arising from Brexit, and it recognises some form of special deal for this region is essential to address local economic and social conditions, to protect the Good Friday Agreement arrangements and to promote political stability."
  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    last Sunday
    South Belfast Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has praised the police following a lack of widespread antisocial behaviour on St Patrick's Day in the Holyland.

    A total of 15 people were arrested in the city centre and Holyland, for minor offences including disorderly behaviour and resisting arrest. Police patrolled the Holyland on Thursday and Friday, a move Ms Bradshaw said had resulted in less trouble than previous years.

    "I wish to thank the police for their operation surrounding St Patrick's Day in the Holyland in particular," she said.

    "Their presence helped ensure non-student residents were left with the minimum of disruption, while allowing revellers to enjoy themselves without a repeat of last year's disgraceful scenes."

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