Northern Ireland Election 2016

Northern Ireland election: Alliance Party predicts three-seat gain

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Media captionDavid Ford launched the Alliance Party manifesto in Belfast

The Alliance Party leader, David Ford, has predicted his party will gain at least three new seats in the assembly election.

Speaking at the launch of the party's manifesto, in Belfast, Mr Ford said they would return enough MLAs to qualify for a ministerial seat.

But he said they won't take on the role of justice minister without a commitment to reform.

The Alliance manifesto makes five main commitments:

  • An option for every child to attend an integrated school
  • Reinvestment of costs of managing (sectarian) division into health and education
  • Reforming the assembly to remove sectarian designations
  • Investing an extra £85m in skills each year
  • Action to tackle paramilitaries and promote the rule of law

The party also backs the introduction of what it calls "fair" water charges, claiming that to avoid them would mean deeper cuts to public services.

Mr Ford said: "I believe we will certainly win the numbers we need, which will be something like eleven, to guarantee that will be in the D'Hondt lucky dip (to qualify for a ministry)."

The party's deputy leader, Naomi Long, said they would build on a clear vision of an "inclusive, fair, progressive society, where everyone is treated with respect and with dignity".

She added: "We share the frustration of many in Northern Ireland at the pace of change.

"The assembly has, of course, delivered much and we have been at the forefront of delivering that change.

"However, it would be fair to say that for many their perception of the assembly is something that is much poorer than we would like to see, one that is typified by deadlock , by delay and by division."

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