This month I provide another insight into The Alliance Party in North Down.
November 2008: November proves to be a busy month for North Down Alliance
The Alliance Party’s North Down Association Executive Committee has experienced an extremely busy month during November.
The month started with celebrations following the election of Barack Obama as US President elect on 5 November 2008. Commenting shortly after his election, North Down Alliance MLA Dr Stephen Farry remarked “His victory is a paradigm shift in US politics, and opens up new opportunities on the international stage. This has been a remarkable election, with two outstanding yet contrasting candidates. The election of a man with a multi-racial background, with a non-traditional name is a transformational moment.”
The Association then held its regular monthly meeting on Monday 10 November 2008. A wide range of topics were discussed at the meeting which was well attended as per usual. The North Down Treasurer again reported a healthy financial state of affairs with the Membership Officer yet again reporting the arrival of new members.
Local Alliance Councillors updated the meeting on work currently underway to determine Council’s budgets for 2009/10 with all in agreement that the current method of calculating rates was unfair. The Alliance Party’s position that rates should be replaced by a Local Income Tax was again agreed as the best alternative to the current system which plays little regard to the ability to pay.
North Down Alliance Alderman Marsden Fitzsimmons provided a valuable update on current activities at North Down Borough Council. Many of those in attendance were interested in the ongoing work to promote Christian Heritage within the Borough.
A general discussion occurred concerning the recent Home Coming Parade for troops who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan with all in agreement that it was right for the parade to go ahead, echoing a comment made by Dr Farry in July 2008 when he stated "irrespective of people's opinions regarding the merits of the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, our troops deserve much credit for their bravery in the line of duty”.
Following the meeting many North Down Alliance members then met again on Thursday 20 November 2008 for a “Question Time” style debate chaired by North Down Alliance Association Executive Chairperson Neil Dickey with Dr Stephen Farry MLA, Councillor Ian Parsley and Councillor David Alderdice serving as panel members.
A range of topics were discussed during the debate ranging from education, rural planning and sectarianism.
A general consensus emerged that whilst the recent proposals from the Church leaders had merit the Alliance Party’s overarching approach to education is to ensure all pupils can avail of the integrated approach if desired.
The meeting also reaffirmed the Party’s position that sectarianism and division should be tackled in order to enable sustainable long term economic development.
25 November 2008