Friday, 22 June 2012

My View - Shared Future blanket a fashion accessory for some

A short article outlining my views covering a Shared Society, Girdwood, Ken Maginnis' homophobia, Power Sharing, Gay Blood Ban and Shared Future as fashion accessory for some

The concept of a Shared Society has been widely discussed in recent weeks after the Alliance Party withdrew from the Executive Committee which is still unable to agree a new Shared Future Strategy with ambitious targets to overcome the division that endures across Northern Ireland.

New plans for the Girdwood site in North Belfast also generated debate with segregated housing at either end of the site a disgraceful element of the plan which was agreed between the DUP, Sinn Fein and SDLP MLAs for the area. Leisure facilities in the middle of the site will act as a de-facto “peace line”.

The Alliance Party do not support the segregated proposals for Girdwood. They prolong division and are a polar opposite of what a Shared Society should look like. 

Shortly after the Girdwood debacle the spotlight was then turned towards gay people. A recent Equality Commission report concerning public attitudes towards minorities provoked Ulster Unionist Lord Ken Maginnis to express his view that homosexuality is a rung on the ladder to bestiality. Despite the offence caused Ken remains both unrepentant and member of the Ulster Unionist Party. I have no hesitation in stating that UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt should expel Ken from the Ulster Unionist Party. Bigoted views such as those expressed by Ken have no place in a civilised society.

In between these stories the same old sectarian Council carve ups continued. It seems that nothing much has changed at Craigavon or Castlereagh with the DUP and Ulster Unionists still resisting power sharing. The Alliance Party will continue to oppose these carve ups. Sharing works, Tribal politics costs. Working together we can achieve so much more.

The focus has now returned to gay people with DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots confirm that the gay blood ban will remain. It seems that British standards are not good enough for this Unionist Minister who is happy to perpetrate discrimination whilst authorities in Great Britain focus more on risk not on prejudice. The Alliance Party oppose Edwin’s support for the gay blood ban and call upon him to bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK.

After all these events it is increasingly obvious that whilst the language of a Shared Society has now been embraced by the DUP, Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionists and the SDLP underneath the Shared Future blanket masking these parties the same old attitudes exist. Words, phrases and gestures are being used in an attempt to fool an electorate which increasingly wants a new type of society which embraces diversity.

If those wearing the Shared Future blanket are serious about building a Shared Society it’s time they stopped wearing it as a fashion accessory and took action to reverse the disgraceful actions taken in recent weeks. 

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