Thursday 9 May 2013

Green Party Disappointed by Lack of Ambition and Progress on Shared Future

The Green Party has criticized the First and Deputy First Ministers’ lack of ambition and piecemeal approach to a shared future in Northern Ireland.

“This is a piecemeal approach which is knee-jerk reaction to the recent flag protests, the upcoming marching season and the threat by the UK government over funding,” Green Party Leader Steven Agnew MLA said.

“In my opinion, these are not the conditions to lay down solid foundations for a shared future in Northern Ireland.

“Yes, removing physical walls is important but it will be meaningless if communities remain politically and ideologically separated and in conflict.

“If we want a united society where differences are celebrated and accepted, then it must start at grass-roots levels and be applicable to all.

“That process needs to start with integrated education, shared housing and better political leadership where a generosity of spirit and co-operation is demonstrated more regularly.

“Waiting until children are 16 or over and not in employment, education or training to offer them a paid, one-year course on good relations and good citizenship is just not enough.

“In fact, it is a disingenuous move which tries and fails to roll two distinct problems – youth unemployment and sectarian division - into one when they need to tackled effectively and separately.

“What we need is an integrated society not necessarily a shared society because too often in Northern Ireland shared future means shared out.

“It is ironic and sad the plans for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration stalled because the DUP and Sinn Fein could not agree how to proceed.

“After the length of time the Executive parties have been discussing how to create a shared future, I am deeply disappointed that this is the best they can come up with.

“It will fail yet more generations of people in Northern Ireland who deserve a better post-conflict plan than this.”

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