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MLA News

  • Trevor Lunn20172
    last Tuesday

    Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn has welcomed legislation by the UK Government to prevent housing associations here moving to the public sector.

    The Government has confirmed it is looking for an opportunity to introduce the legislation, which is required due to a 2016 decision by the Office for National Statistics to classify housing associations as public bodies.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    last Monday

    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said developments in Scotland may offer a way for fast compensation for elderly or infirm victims of Historical Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland, and called on the Secretary of State to act.

    The Scottish Government will fast track payments to victims and survivors of care homes there in April. Up to £10 million in compensation packages will be paid, initially to people whose age or health means they might not live to see a wider planned compensation scheme rolled out.

    "We have heard from the Secretary of State she is considering 'further actions' on the issue of historical institutional abuse, but we still see scant evidence of this occurring. Meanwhile, victims and survivors are still waiting over two years since the Hart Inquiry concluded, with the real risk justice will come too late.

    "We now see in Scotland a clear model of legislation being brought forward but also, vitally, payment to elderly and infirm victims being prioritised and made swiftly even prior to the conclusion of the legislative process. Given the Hart Inquiry recommendations are accepted in Northern Ireland, there is no reason this same process should not be paralleled here.

  • Naomi Long
    last Friday

    The proposed backstop cannot be removed from the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.

    Mrs Long was speaking after meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Belfast. She said it was a positive meeting in which she outlined the concerns of people here around proposed changes to the backstop following last week's vote in the House of Commons.

    "Earlier this week, we met with the Prime Minister and told her the facts - a no deal Brexit is catastrophic and a permanent, backstop is required as part of the Withdrawal Agreement. It was reassuring to hear from the Taoiseach he agrees on those points, with Mr Varadkar again giving his commitment to the backstop in particular," she said.

    "We are now less than 50 days until the scheduled date of Brexit and still have no clarity around the way forward from the UK Government, other than pie in the sky talk of 'alternative arrangements'. Businesses, farmers, civic society and others need certainty and need it now before the cliff edge of a no deal gets any closer.

    "Part of that certainty can be achieved by the return of devolution. While differences remain between the parties, we also reiterated to the Taoiseach we believe a reinvigorated talks process chaired by an independent facilitator is the only way to get that."

  • Chris Lyttle profile pic 1
    last Thursday

    Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle has encouraged people to participate in a major survey on the issue of childcare here.

    Employers for Childcare's Childcare Cost Survey 2019 seeks the views on the provision of childcare in Northern Ireland, and the support available for parents and childcare providers. The results inform the organisation's campaigning for better support for childcare in Northern Ireland to ensure it meets the needs of families and childcare providers.

  • John Blair
    last Thursday
    Alliance MLA John Blair has welcomed confirmation the Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary is willing to attend a meeting of the Policing Board to answer questions around the arrest of two journalists in relation to alleged theft of documents from the Police Ombudsman's Office.

    Following a question at today's Policing Board meeting from Mr Blair, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said Michael Barton of Durham Constabulary would make himself "answerable for his actions" following the arrests of Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney last August. The two men were part of the team which produced No Stone Unturned, a documentary covering the Loughinisland massacre.

    "The Policing Board should be able to scrutinise all policing actions carried out in Northern Ireland. The PSNI outsourced the investigation of this matter to the Durham Constabulary, which subsequently resulted in the arrest, questioning and release of these two journalists," said Mr Blair.

    "It raised several significant public interest issues, one of which was how can a police service from another jurisdiction, albeit one operating at the PSNI's request, be held accountable for its actions.

    "I am pleased Chief Constable George Hamilton took on board my concerns at today's meeting and confirmed Chief Constable Michael Barton is prepared to come to this board, and be answerable for the actions of himself and his police service.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    last Thursday
    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has called on the Public Health Agency to launch a new, targeted campaign to encourage younger women in particular to go for cervical screening.

    The South Belfast MLA was speaking after news there had been a drop in the uptake of the tests among women here aged 25-29.

    "It is increasingly recognised a public Health Service must be about prevention and, where appropriate, early intervention, and never more so than when it comes to the detection of cancer. Therefore it is concerning there has been a drop in the number of women attending," she said.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 2
    5 February

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said the Prime Minister has no viable policy to avoid a hard border after Brexit.

    Dr Farry was speaking after Theresa May's speech to business leaders in Belfast, in which she defended her strategy on Brexit.

    "The Prime Minister can keep stressing her commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and to avoiding a hard border, but unless she has a coherent and realistic plan those warm words don't amount to much," said Dr Farry.

    "The only way to avoid a hard border in Ireland is either for whole UK or for Northern Ireland to be sufficiently aligned on customs and regulations. Over the past two years, the Prime Minister has tied herself up in knots with contradictory redlines and entertaining delusions. The backstop was her agreed way through this, negotiated with the EU in good faith.

    "The Prime Minister has now walked away from the all-weather backstop as agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement. This is an act of bad faith. The Government has no plausible alternative and has reduced itself to reheating half-baked ideas that have debunked and dismissed.

    "With barely 50 days to go, the Prime Minister has no viable policy. The choices remain clear and stark. These are either to accept the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop or reconsider Brexit itself. The Prime Minister does have the capacity to move to the political centre and to build a consensus around a softer version of Brexit, ensuring the backstop would not need to be implemented. Otherwise, the UK will default to a no deal outcome, which would be catastrophic for Northern Ireland.

    "Alliance will be stressing to the Prime Minister if she wants to do a negotiated Brexit then she must respect the backstop and build cross-party coalitions, rather than pandering to the DUP and ERG.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    5 February
    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said there will be understandable concern after 86 women were asked to contact their GP to rearrange cervical smear tests.

    The Western Trust said it had reviewed cases screened and reported at its pathology laboratory between April 2018 - June 2018. Of the 86 women affected, 61 of them are from the Western Trust area, eight women from the Belfast and South Eastern Trust areas and 17 women from the Republic of Ireland. Those affected will receive letters today (Tuesday) asking them to contact their GP to arrange a repeat test.

    The South Belfast MLA stated: "While it is to be emphasised the repeat tests do not necessarily mean the first results were wrong, any recall of this nature will clearly cause concern to the women affected and their families.

    "It should be noted not all the women tested came from the Western Trust area, even though the recall applies only to tests carried out there.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    5 February

    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has cautioned further inaction is not an option after a report showed young people feel social media creates an overwhelming pressure to succeed, while comparing their lives to others on the platforms makes them feel inadequate.

    The Prince's Trust eBay Youth Index report for Children's Mental Health Week showed two-thirds of young people aged 16-25 have a sense of being overwhelmed by a constant pressure to succeed and are made to feel inadequate because of social media.

  • 31 January

    Joint statement from the pro-Remain parties in the NI Assembly

    "With only eight weeks until the UK exits the EU, the four pro-Remain Assembly parties - Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance and Greens - are united in our support for the backstop negotiated by both the European Union and the British Government.

    "We continue to believe that there is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit, and any opportunity to reconsider Brexit should be taken.

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