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MLA News

  • 30 July

    Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said an attack on a memorial for those killed in the Kingsmill massacre is "disgusting".

    Flowers placed by victims' relatives were vandalised and an Irish tricolour nailed to the memorial overnight.

    "This is a disgusting attack and I condemn it," said Dr Farry.

    "Sectarian vandalism such as this achieves nothing but hurting the loved ones of the victims. There is no place whatsoever in our society for the desecration of memorials to the deceased, particularly those who died in such a nakedly sectarian attack.

    "I would urge anyone with information on this to contact the police with it immediately."
  • Kellie Armstrong
    30 July

    Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong has attended a cross-community counter-protest against the Britain First group.

    Ms Armstrong was one of the protesters in Newtownards on Saturday (July 28) which faced down the far-right organisation.

    "It was obvious Britain First supporters were frustrated by the lack of support which turned out for them on the day. While a couple made some unnecessary comments to the peaceful protestors standing legally nearby, only a handful managed to leave their cars, preferring instead to avoid the counter-protesters," she said.

    "It came as welcome news to the many local people who contacted me frightened to be in Newtownards on the day. The face Britain First received no support is testament to how little they are thought of here.

    "Following internal feuds and their expulsion of some local members, it is clear Britain First is imploding. The people of Newtownards sent a strong message that the group and its brand of hostile campaigning is not welcome or wanted here or anywhere. We want to see no hate here."
  • Chris Lyttle profile pic 1
    25 July

    Alliance East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle has said new funding for Bombardier is a vote of confidence for the company's workforce.

    Mr Lyttle was speaking after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced almost £12 million for Bombardier, funding the development of modern technology for aircraft.

    "This news is a vote of confidence for the highly skilled workforce at Bombardier, who are globally renowned," said Mr Lyttle.

    "Bombardier showcases advanced manufacturing, research and skills, and therefore this investment is a sound one. The company is also a major employer in East Belfast and plays a vital role for the wider supply chain across Northern Ireland.

    "This will hopefully be a confidence boost in an innovative company."

  • Naomi Long
    25 July

    Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has welcomed the first British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in over a decade but said its key challenge is helping restart talks to restore devolution here.

    Mrs Long was speaking after the meeting, between Ministers from both Governments, took place in London. It discussed legacy, security co-operation, east-west relations and political stability in Northern Ireland. It will meet again in the autumn.

    "Despite the length of time to arrange this meeting and arguments over the format, it is welcome the two Governments have met again in a formal capacity, no matter the set-up," said Mrs Long.

    "In this time of massive political uncertainty, we need much more structured engagements between the UK and Irish Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. The ongoing situation relating to the lack of an Executive is not sustainable and the key challenge for any Governmental meeting, now or in the future, is helping restart talks and identifying an independent chair.

    "Alliance's Next Steps Forward document suggested a number of steps which could be taken to get devolution re-established. One of them was the reconvening of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, so it is important others, such as appointing a talks mediator ahead of intensive talks, are also followed through on immediately."
  • Stewart Dickson profile pic 2
    24 July

    East Antrim Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has expressed his delight at the announcement Phoenix Natural Gas is to extend its gas pipe network to Whitehead.

    The Utility Regulator has approved an application from Phoenix meaning the people of Whitehead will now be able to enjoy the benefits of natural gas as their neighbours in Carrickfergus long have.

    Mr Dickson commented: "I have been working with Phoenix and the Utility Regulator for years to get this proposal over the line. In April this year I called on both parties to come to a resolution as the Regulator indicated to me 'all obstacles' had been removed, and the ball was now in Phoenix's court.

    "I am now happy to see we now have an approved plan for the future of gas to Whitehead.

    "Residents will soon be able to benefit from a clean and efficient fuel. The Housing Executive has also indicated to me they intend to start installing gas into Whitehead properties as soon as possible so these benefits will be extended to both private and social tenants.

    "I will be keeping a close eye on progress, but this is a win - win situation, and I expect winters in Whitehead will be a little warmer from now on."
  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    23 July

    Paula Bradshaw MLA has signed a cross-party letter alongside elected representatives from across the UK and Ireland to support a campaign by Stella Creasy MP, which urges the British and Irish governments to use the forthcoming British Irish Inter-Governmental Conference to play a role in moving along the issue of abortion here in Northern Ireland.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    20 July

    The Prime Minister needs to stop portraying the Brexit backstop as a political and constitutional problem, Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said.

    Dr Farry was speaking after taking part in an Alliance delegation meeting Theresa May, a discussion he described as "frank". He added they had also raised a number of other issues relating to the political impasse here.

    "We had a very frank discussion with the Prime Minister. It is important she listens to all voices across the community in a balanced way," he said.

    "On Brexit, we stressed the need for her to de-escalate the language around the backstop. In her remarks today, the Prime Minister ramped up the rhetoric and wrongly portrayed it as a political and constitutional problem, rather than presenting it in practical terms. The backstop is only necessary as a safety net until a better arrangement comes along. It is anything but a threat to the Good Friday Agreement, rather it recognises and protects Northern Ireland's unique circumstances.

    "The UK Government has had plenty of time to find a genuine and realistic alternative to the EU's legal text on the backstop, but even at this late stage we are open to considering any different approaches maintaining an open border, protecting the GFA and empowering the local economy.

    "We also called for the Prime Minister to provide leadership in ending the dangerous drift in Northern Ireland politics - a situation that is increasingly being exploited. In particular, we urged her to ensure MLA's salaries are cut and an independent facilitator for talks is appointed as a matter of urgency in order to kickstart a fresh process."
  • Stewart Dickson profile pic 2
    20 July

    Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has asked the Head of the Civil Service whether a fund for ethnic minority groups is serving its intended purpose, after concerns were raised over which groups were receiving money.

    Several groups who applied to the Minority Ethnic Development Fund (MEDF) have complained about losing funding, adding their belief financing was not reserved exclusively for minority ethnic organisations. Mr Dickson said he has now sought urgent clarification.

    "There is no doubting the MEDF has provided excellent support for many ethnic minority groups," he said.

    "However, concerns have been raised regarding its running, as a number of other groups have been offered funding who are outside of the intended original scope of the fund. While those groups may carry out good work in the community, the result is minority ethnic groups - who are meant to benefit from the fund - will miss out.

    "I have asked David Sterling to outline how the scheme is being managed, who has applied for it and how the awarding of funds fits with the purpose of the scheme. If we do not clarify this situation urgently, we could see disastrous consequences and some organisations could even go to the wall."
  • 19 July

    The Leaders of Alliance, Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Green Party said:

    "We are at a crucial point in the Brexit negotiations. Guarantees were given in the Joint Report between the British government and the EU in December that there would be no diminution of rights as a result of Brexit, on the rights of people resident here and that the Good Friday Agreement would be protected.

    "These guarantees have yet to be fully translated into legally binding text and reflected in the Draft Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    18 July

    Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has called for Ian Paisley MP to consider his position after he was told he was facing a 30-day suspension for breaching parliamentary rules.

    The House of Commons Committee on Standards found Mr Paisley lobbied against a UN resolution on Sri Lanka without disclosing two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan Government. He admitted receiving over £50,000 in hospitality for the trips, which he did not register with Parliament.

    "Public trust in politics in Northern Ireland has never been at a lower ebb thanks to the ongoing impasse at Stormont and a series of scandals. If we are to regain that trust and confidence, each of us need to demonstrate an active commitment to transparency," said Ms Bradshaw.

    "Mr Paisley has let both himself and his constituents down, calling into question his personal integrity and the ability of voters to trust him. Therefore he needs to take on board the overwhelming public response to this matter and consider his position as MP for North Antrim.

    "In the past few days, a number of key matters relating to Brexit have scraped through the House of Commons thanks to a handful of DUP votes. Potentially losing one of those DUP MPs ahead of other important votes in the near future could be of vital importance, but the party needs to look at the bigger picture and decide whether it can continue to back Mr Paisley.

    "It will only need just over 7,500 constituents in North Antrim to sign a petition calling for their MP to step down. If he does not make that decision himself, I'm sure there will be enough voters to make it for him."

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