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MLA News

  • John Blair
    4 April
    Alliance Policing Board member John Blair MLA has said there remains an onus on all of us to help tackle intolerance, after questioning the PSNI on hate crimes against Muslims.

    Mr Blair's question at today's meeting of the Policing Board comes after recent figures showed there have been at least 320 hate crimes against people from a Muslim background in Belfast over the past five years. However, the Institute for Conflict Research, which carried out the study, believes most incidents against Muslims are not reported to police, which PSNI representatives confirmed at today's meeting was also their belief.

    "Muslims play a full and integral role in our society. It is maddening to think there are people who will go to various lengths to whip up tensions in our community, particularly when the vast majority here welcome the growing multicultural nature of Northern Ireland, and wish groups behind such incidents would vanish," said South Antrim MLA Mr Blair.

    "I was pleased Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton agreed to engage further on this matter through the Policing Board. The Places of Worship Security Funding scheme in England and Wales gives money to places of worship which have been subjected to or could be vulnerable to hate crime attacks for protective security. We need to see a similar scheme here, together with a Racial Equality Strategy monitored by a functioning Executive.

    "The Policing Board also has a role to play on this matter and I want to help ensure progress is seen in and delivered through every Policing and Community Safety Partnership in Northern Ireland.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    2 April
    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has expressed concern at the decision to allow the resumption of vaginal mesh surgery in England and emphasised the decision cannot be replicated in Northern Ireland.

    The South Belfast MLA was speaking after the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) said the controversial implants could be offered again on the NHS in England if conditions were met. It follows a suspension of the mesh across the UK last year.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 2
    29 March

    Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said if the Brexit process has not reached a "positive and constructive conclusion" by April 12, the UK Government has no other option but to revoke Article 50.

    Dr Farry was speaking after MPs voted to reject Theresa May's proposed Withdrawal Agreement by 344 votes to 286. It means the Prime Minister now has until April 12 to seek a further extension to avoid a no deal Brexit.

    "The UK Government and Parliament have together deepened an already major crisis. The future economic prosperity and cohesion of the UK is at stake," he said.

    "A no deal Brexit would be a disaster for the UK as a whole but a catastrophe for Northern Ireland. It must be avoided at all costs. Every day this crisis continues, untold damage is happening to our economy, people's jobs and livelihoods, plus our international reputation.

    "For Alliance, the current Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, was always the absolute minimum acceptable. And there can be no retreat on the backstop. But we have always preferred different approaches, including a People's Vote to reconsider Brexit or a soft Brexit UK-wide.

    "If the current version of the Withdrawal Agreement is no longer viable, then the choices for the Government and Parliament are narrowed to amending the Political Declaration to indicate a Customs Union and remaining in the Single Market, or putting the Withdrawal Agreement to a referendum. Indeed, it may well be both of those approaches should be combined.

  • Kellie Armstrong
    29 March
    Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has called on the Department for Communities Permanent Secretary to meet MLAs immediately over welfare reform mitigation measures, after she said she wouldn't until after May's Council election.

    Ms Armstrong was speaking after receiving a letter from Tracy Meharg, following her Department's review of welfare mitigation funding. Mitigation measures are currently due to end in March 2020, with the review designed to advise a Minister on possible options beyond that.

    However, while the Permanent Secretary acknowledges there will be 'considerable interest' in the outcome of the review, she states no meetings with MLAs should take place until after the local government election on May 2.

    "While I understand the rules around a purdah period, this is a local government election and MLAs are not involved. Therefore, MLAs are not subject to purdah and will continue doing their jobs," said Ms Armstrong.

    "More pertinently, mitigation measures are scheduled to end in March 2020 - time is running out and every moment counts. To write off another five weeks for no good reason is simply not acceptable, especially when constituents are raising this issue with me and my colleagues every single day.

  • John Blair
    27 March

    Alliance South Antrim MLA John Blair has reiterated his call for an independent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after new figures revealed the extent of the pollution problems of a local river.

    Following a request from Mr Blair, the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency stated since records began in 2012, there have been 676 reported incidents of pollution in the Six Mile Water River in Ballyclare. Of those, 57 were rated either medium severity or high severity. Total fines for the incidents equalled just £7,950, with fewer than 20 per cent leading to prosecutions.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    22 March
    The UK Government's implementation of Brexit has been "incompetent and humiliating," Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said.

    Dr Farry was speaking after a meeting of the European Council, whose President Donald Tusk said if the Prime Minister's Withdrawal Agreement achieves the backing of Parliament, the date of Brexit will be pushed back to May 22. However, if that doesn't happen, the UK Government will have to propose a way forward by April 12 to avoid a no deal scenario.

    "Brexit is an entirely flawed and self-defeating concept but the UK Government's implementation has been incompetent and humiliating," said Dr Farry.

    "The European Council has essentially had to intervene to provide some structure and breathing space for the UK Government and Parliament to take clear and long overdue decisions, and to avoid an immediate cliff-edge no deal outcome.

    "For Alliance, the most coherent and democratic option is to have a People's Vote and ask the EU for a longer extension before April 12. An alternative way forward is to modify the Political Declaration to telegraph a softer version of Brexit.

  • Paula Bradshaw profile pic 1
    22 March

    South Belfast Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has welcomed the passage of planning approval for the "Belfast Hub" at Great Victoria Street Station.

    Ms Bradshaw stated: "The so-called 'Belfast Hub' at Weavers Cross off Great Victoria Street promises to be a much more efficient central public transport location, and much more besides.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    20 March
    Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said there is no reason to further delay talks to restore devolution, after the Secretary of State said no process would take place until at least May.

    He was speaking after meeting Karen Bradley in London, where she also signalled her intention to extend until the end of August legislation forcing her to call another election if no Executive is formed.

    "I met with the Secretary of State today in London and outlined in no uncertain terms to her while we recognise Brexit and local government elections complicate the issue, there can be no excuse for further delaying all-party talks or, at least, preparatory work for them," said Dr Farry.

    "Every day this impasse continues, people continue to suffer, while the lack of public confidence in politics to deliver for our community grows. Issues such as financial pressures in health and education continue, with no meaningful opportunity for MLAs to respond to them and reach better outcomes for those who elected us.

    "If and when the Secretary of State seeks any extension in Parliament, she needs to indicate she will put it to better use than the period since November.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 2
    20 March
    A game of chicken is being played over the way forward on the Brexit process, Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said.

    Dr Farry was speaking after giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster, which was holding a session on the border and the proposed backstop.

    "After well over 33 months being available to agree and ratify the terms for Brexit, it is simply stunning, reckless and irresponsible that across the UK Government and Parliament no formal way forward has been agreed with barely over nine days to go," he said.

    "Some people, including the Prime Minister, seem willing to gamble the future cohesion and economic prosperity of the UK through a game of chicken, taking this right to the wire. But businesses and others have every right to know what their relationship with the EU is going to be in just over 200 hours' time. People's jobs, opportunities and livelihoods are at stake.

    "It is inevitable now Brexit must be delayed to avoid that cliff edge. No deal is unthinkable. Yet no extension can even be taken for granted.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    20 March

    Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has expressed concern at the ongoing failure to establish a Child Death Overview Panel in Northern Ireland.

    Panels have existed in current form in England since 2013 to review information on unexpected child deaths, with the objective of preventing further deaths.

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