Alliance Party Conference #APNI2022

After a two-year gap, the Alliance Party conference returned exactly two months before the Assembly election. Deputy leader Stephen Farry must have been relieved that he didn’t have to step in to deliver the leader’s speech this year!

There were plenty of party stalwarts in the Crowne Plaza seats, and plenty of fresh young activists who weren’t on the scene two years ago. Yet the mood was slightly muted, at least until the leader and her deputy spoke. That can’t really be blamed on any lack of enthusiasm or jaundiced view of politics. It seemed more to be a consequence of the number of people not there due to having COVID in their families, and the lack of confidence about large scale events. And the conflict in Ukraine also casts an international shadow over local matters.

Party figures seem confident that they’ll return with at least 11 MLAs after May’s election – a boost of four – with the potential for another couple if transfers split favourably.

Elected reps and hopeful candidates set out their stall of achievements and policy positions. Rhetoric regularly called for the ending of binary politics, deadlock and division. Successes were celebrated, candidates road tested their stump speeches, and exhibitors grabbed publicity shots with MLAs and councillors supporting their campaigns.

The first panel of the morning was chaired by outgoing MLA Chris Lyttle, who picked up so many plaudits and warm tributes for his work in the eleven and a half years since he was first co-opted to Belfast East. He’s stepping down on May 5 with no plans yet for his life after politics.

It was a bit of a reintroduction of some of party’s seven MLAs to party members, along with an update on progress in their areas of responsibility: Chris Lyttle – Education; Kellie Armstrong – Communities; Paula Bradshaw – Health; Andrew Muir – Infrastructure.

The sessions weren’t being livestreamed publicly – a missed opportunity – with party members unable to attend (including a couple of the MLAs and candidates due to COVID) watching on a party Zoom session. Paula Bradshaw paid tribute to her constituency and colleague Christopher Stalford. They party spokespeople pointed to what could be achieved with a second Alliance member on their Assembly committees. Andrew Muir said: “it’s time the Assembly was shook up to reflect the rainbow society we now live in”.

The next two panels introduced Alliance’s hopeful candidates.

Belfast North candidate Nuala McAllister explained that her young sons were excited about the upcoming election season, particular the posters! She asked the boys what they would want her to do as an MLA. Finn (5) said “Mummy, can you help all the homeless people”. Three year old Art wanted “Free holidays!” Nuala quipped “I had to break the news to him that I’m not Ian Paisley Jnr”.

Their slate of showcased candidates included Councillor Patrick Brown who is standing in South Down. He was elected to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in 2014 without delivering a single leaflet, a paper candidate swept in on a surge of support for Alliance. Lagan Valley’s Sorcha Eastwood made a strong stump speech (and understandably omitted any mention of Trevor Lunn MLA, elected for Alliance in 2007 but pivoted to be independent on the eve of his party’s last conference). Upper Bann’s Eóin Tennyson was even tipped as a future party leader.

The delegates in the hall and on the party Zoom call also heard from a fired-up Patricia O’Lynn (who referred to some current North Antrim representatives as “pale, stale, privileged men”), Nick Mathison (Strangford), Stephen Donnelly (West Tyrone) and Jackie Coade (Newry & Armagh). [Update – having seen the script of O’Lynn’s speech, I’ve clarified her comments above which weren’t specifically aimed at the five sitting North Antrim MLAs.]

North Down MP and deputy leader Stephen Farry opened his speech with reflections on the situation in Ukraine:

“… we must recognise that the liberal international order is now under greater threat than at any time since 1945. With the upsurge of populism and nationalism, tyranny and aggression. We must acknowledge that there is a need for liberal parties to reinvent themselves and their message to face the emerging new challenges. However, our values of freedom, equality and opportunity, the individual as part of community, rationalism and evidence-based policy remain as relevant as ever.

“This is a really dark time for the people of Ukraine. Our first thoughts lie with them. These are horrible days in which many civilians and soldiers are being brutally killed. Russia stands exposed as a pariah state. The invasion is a blatant act of aggression against an independent sovereign state. It is a flagrant breach of the United Nations Charter and wider international law. It represents the greatest international crisis in generations. This requires a substantive and sustained response from the international community, including the UK. The goal must be for Russia to cease its aggression and to withdraw from Ukraine.”

Stephen did not repeat comments from his party leader earlier in the week supporting a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“It is right that we support the government and armed forces of Ukraine with the supply of defensive weapons, bolster the defences of NATO countries on the front line, and seek to develop humanitarian corridors. But sanctions are the main tool at our disposal. They must especially target the Putin regime and his wider network of influence. Sanctions will hurt Russia as it has a much weaker economy than the G7 and many others.”

He told conference:

“As recently as 12 days ago, I said to the Prime Minister that addressing this challenge cannot be left to those countries in Eastern Europe. This needs to be genuine collective response across Europe. But he didn’t want to know. Today, the UK response is shamefully falling short of what is being offered across the European Union, including notably from Ireland which has opened its doors. Our message to the Home Office is. Stop waiving flags. Waive visas.”

Stephen’s speech also touched on Afghanistan, climate change, and the cost-of-living crisis.

“We are calling on the Assembly to invest in additional home heating grants and child payments for low-income households. Plus the Assembly must legislate to regulate home heating oil. We want the UK Government to introduce a Windfall Tax, levied on energy companies who have made super profits over the last couple of years. It is only right and just that these companies contribute to assisting the most vulnerable households. We also call on the Government to abolish the planned increase in National Insurance Contributions and to uplift Universal Credit and other benefits by the current rate of inflation in April 2022 by the real rate of inflation today, not from six month ago.”

On the NI Protocol, Stephen said:

“Alliance understands the reasons why the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol exists. We don’t want to see any borders or lines on map. We know that any new barriers bring economic friction and undermine some people’s sense of identity. In the absence of an alternative, the only course of action is to try and make it work. We are Protocol realists.

“We are committed to doing all we can to reduce the level and impact of the resultant checks down the Irish Sea through seeking closer alignment between the UK and the EU, and achieving further mitigations, flexibilities and derogations from EU requirements. While in parallel, we recognise that all forms of Brexit bring problems and losses to Northern Ireland, we are conscious that our region has greater economic opportunities than other parts of the UK due to our ability to have unfettered access to both the GB market and the EU market …

“Our bottom line is this. We want to see solutions that are workable and sustainable. We want to see businesses having stability and legal certainty. We want to protect the limited dual market access to Great Britain and the European Union currently available to Northern Ireland.”

The pace and passion certainly went up a gear when Naomi Long took to the stage. You can watch her speech on the BBC NI Live page that covered the conference.

“It’s two years from our last in-person conference and three years since I had the opportunity to address you in person. I have to say that it is great to be back together, and I hope that today will not just be an energising political event but a welcome opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.

“It’s great to see so many of our new members at conference. Throughout the last two years, the party has continued to grow at an unprecedented rate with over 300 new members last year alone – and it is encouraging to see so many of you here today.

“… I want to send our best wishes to John Blair and Stewart Dickson for a swift and full recovery from Covid, and also to a number of our candidates who were due to be panellists today but who are also now self-isolating due to positive tests this week. Of course I was an early adopter – for it was Covid that prevented me from addressing conference in 2020 – so they are in good company. Thankfully now, we have the ability to livestream to those who can’t be here – and I hope you are enjoying us virtually are enjoying conference so far.”

Remembering the 2019 conference, Naomi reflected on her European connections and the conflict in Ukraine:

“We also met just a few months ahead of the European Election – remember those! – where our electoral momentum as a party continued to build and when I had the privilege of becoming the first Alliance MEP. Whilst my time in Brussels and Strasbourg was short, it helped us build the connections and networks which have been sustained since Brexit and has strengthened our connections with other liberal parties across Europe through our membership of ALDE and Renew Europe.

“As we meet today, of course, our European colleagues are very much on our minds. Last week, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe, granted affiliate membership to Sluha Narodu, Servant of the People, the party of Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. I think none of us can fail to have been impressed by his composure and leadership as Ukraine has seen war waged by Russian troops on the streets of their towns and cities, or to be moved by the horror of the scenes unfolding in a nation only a three-hour flight from here.

“As someone who lived through the Cold War and watched the break-up of the USSR, as a teenager – as independence movements and the hunger for democracy and freedom swept across the soviet block, causing the fall of the Iron Curtain – it is hard now to explain the sense of relief and optimism of that time. And it is harder still to explain the anguish and heartache I feel watching Putin and the Kremlin seeking to crush that spirit of freedom under the advance of their tanks and guns and roll back the clock to a darker time in our history.

“This war of aggression waged against a sovereign, democratic state is not the first breach of international law by the Kremlin, who were responsible for the Salisbury poisonings, and the annexation of Crimea to name but two.

“Neither is it the work of the Russian people – indeed, it has exposed the lengths to which the Kremlin is willing to go to subjugate freedom and democracy for their own people. I commend the bravery of those who have stood up against the authoritarian and autocratic regime in defence of their Ukrainian neighbours.

“Today we offer our solidarity, but more – we can offer our help. You will see on the screens today details of the Ukraine Appeal from the Disasters Emergency Committee, who are working directly with their partner charities on the ground in Ukraine and the surrounding countries to alleviate the rapidly unfolding humanitarian crisis in the region. Please, if you can, make a donation and help those who are being displaced internally, who cannot find safe routes to escape the advancing troops and those who have managed to flee to neighbouring countries.

“We offer our support not only for humanitarian aid, but also call on the UK government to open legal routes for refugees to reach safety here. We must play a role in assisting with the now over one million people who have fled Ukraine since the war began – ordinary people facing extraordinary hardship. As Stephen said: we need to waive the visas and welcome the refugees.

“We also offer our support for stronger, swifter economic sanctions against Russia and in particular the oligarchs who support the Putin’s regime. Whilst welcoming what the UK and other countries have done thus far, we need to act faster and more decisively to strip this kleptocracy of its source of power – its wealth. That also mean seeking alternatives to reliance on Russian oil and gas.

“It should disquiet us all that so many of those in this Government are recipients of large donations from Russian sources and it demonstrates powerfully why we need to rid the UK of outside influences, which threaten our own democracy. Openness and transparency are critical tools in ensuring that we guard against the flow of dark money infecting our politics and elections.

“And of course the influence of that dark money was not far away when it came to Brexit, and it is essential that the finding of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee report, released this week, is taken seriously and acted upon. The long-delayed report exposes the potential interference of the Kremlin in British elections and referendums.”

On the repercussions of the UK leaving the EU:

“And Brexit continues to destabilise relations between the UK and the EU even at this critical time, as well as our politics much closer to home. It is a painful irony that those who most avidly pursued the hardest possible Brexit, refusing every possible alternative to the protocol, are the same people who are now moaning most loudly the impact of the Brexit they chose and the Protocol they made an inevitability.

“Of course it was no surprise to any of us who had watched Boris bluster his way through politics leaving in his wake a tsunami of unkept promises and unfulfilled commitments, when his “oven ready” Brexit turned out to be a turkey!

“What never fails to surprise is the eternal willingness of some to put their faith in a man and a party that at every turn will throw them under the bus. Indeed, some parties have spent so much time under the bus over the last few years, you would be forgiven for mistaking them for Translink mechanics.”

That last phrase probably enjoyed the largest laugh and applause of the conference.

“Despite our opposition to both Brexit and the Protocol – which we voted against in both Europe and Westminister – we have continued to focus on solutions to make Brexit as painless and as low impact as it can be for the people we represent and for local businesses. Whether that is new EU legislation to ensure continued access to medicines or a bespoke UK-EU veterinary agreement, we have focused on solutions. But we can only deliver pragmatic solutions, if people acknowledge the fact that the inevitable consequence of Brexit was increased friction and costs, rather than the fantasy that we could exit the EU and still maintain all of the benefits of membership.

“And that is why it was so important that the Alliance surge continued in the 2019 Westminster elections, when North Down elected Stephen Farry to Westminster, to be a strong advocate on international affairs, human rights and equality and ensuring that an informed and pragmatic voice from Northern Ireland is heard in Parliament, on issues at home and abroad.

“I am immensely proud of all that Stephen has done and has achieved on behalf of his constituents and on behalf of Northern Ireland in the House of Commons, but I am particularly proud of his work to assist refugees from Afghanistan. It is not an exaggeration when I say that there are people alive today who otherwise would not have been, as a result of the direct intervention of Stephen and Niamh [McCourt, his parliamentary assistant]. Thank you, Stephen, for all that you do for your constituency, for NI and for the Alliance Party.”

The party leader’s speech turned to the Assembly and Executive:

“Our electoral successes in 2019 not only provided us with more opportunities to deliver for people right across Northern Ireland at every level of Government: it also served as a wake-up call for other parties. It was a reminder that they couldn’t simply take the public or their votes for granted. The prospect of another battering at the polls in an Assembly election created the conditions which led to the NDNA agreement and got them back to work.

“And so devolution was restored, just over two years ago. Whilst getting institutions back up and running again, re-forming the Executive and getting MLAs back into the Assembly, was way overdue, it was also an opportunity for Alliance to powerfully demonstrate that when people demand better by voting Alliance, they get it.

“After three years of suspension and wasted opportunities, our focus was firmly about what we could achieve in the remaining two year term: about what Alliance could deliver. Our focus was on making a positive impact on people and the issues that really matter to them.

“It was also about demonstrating to a public increasingly weary of stop-go devolution, who were understandably starting to question the very point of the Assembly, that it could really deliver progress.”

Speaking about her role as Justice Minister:

“In legislative terms, despite having a short mandate of just over two years instead of the usual four or even five, it has been about working hard to develop and deliver five Bills through the Assembly.

“The fourth of those Bills finished its passage through the Assembly last week, when the Protection from Stalking Bill had its final reading. The fifth and final bill – The Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims Bill – is due to have its Further Consideration stage on Monday, the penultimate step in its journey into law.

“I’m sure the only previous Justice Minister to have passed devolved legislation, and indeed our former DEL minister, won’t mind if I claim the passage of five substantive pieces of legislation as a something of a record in any mandate, let alone in two short years!

“The legislation that I have prioritised will deliver wide-ranging positive changes and new protections for victims. For example, the new domestic abuse offence in Northern Ireland, which came into full operation last week, captures not only physical abuse against a partner, former partner or family member, but also patterns of non-physical controlling, coercive behaviour.

“The new Protection from Stalking Bill will not only make stalking a criminal offence by the end of this summer, but will introduce Stalking Protection Orders by the end of the year, to allow early intervention by police and the courts to protect victims at risk of serious harm ahead of a conviction.

“The Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims Bill will bring in a raft of measures to offer better protections for witnesses, who are often also victims, in serious sexual offence cases. It will create new criminal offences of upskirting, downblousing, cyber-flashing as well as strengthening the laws around “revenge pornography”, banning the so called “rough sex” defences, and creating a specific offence of non-fatal strangulation which is so often a precursor to domestic homicide.

“Victims and witnesses will no longer have to provide oral evidence more than once at trial, just one of the measures within the Committal Reform Bill. I also made the compensation and personal injury arrangements fairer for victims, scrapping the same household rule, which prevented those who were victims of someone they lived with from being compensated, and by ensuring that those who have suffered personal injury through no fault of their own are properly compensated for the impact of their injury.

“These are hugely important and significant measures which will help people when they are at their most vulnerable. I have met with and listened to the experiences of many victims, and their loved ones. I have heard heart-breaking, personal stories and I want to commend the dignity and bravery of each and every person who has spoken with me. I want them to know that they have been heard but also that I have been seeking to find solutions to the problems they faced so others will have better experiences in future.

“In the coming weeks, I will be giving victims a stronger voice and dedicated advocate by appointing a Victims of Crime Commissioner Designate for Northern Ireland.

“Also, acutely aware that those permanently injured during the Troubles had waited too long to receive a pension, the Department of Justice at my request stepped up and did the heavy lifting in terms of creating a workable scheme and establishing the Victims’ Payments Board which has now made its first payments to victims.

“I am particularly glad that I was able to play a role in breaking the political stand-off on this issue, having supported the campaign from the outset and having travelled to Downing Street with the Seriously Injured Group from WAVE while I was an MP.

“And I have also laid the foundations for future progress. Work has been completed for the introduction of a Sentencing Bill in the next mandate. I am currently consulting on proposals for a new Hate Crime Bill and consultation on proposals for ‘Charlotte’s Law’, which would encourage disclosure of information on the locations of victims’ remains by those convicted of their killing, has just finished paving the way for legislation in the next mandate.”

She thanked her special advisors, particularly Claire Johnson who “a special delivery of her own, baby Lily”.

Aside from the Department of Justice:

“I have been open and honest about the significant challenges of being part of an often dysfunctional Executive: let’s just say, it has not always been easy. But I have also demonstrated what we can achieve if we focus on doing the job we were elected to do rather than posturing and bluster. However, that progress is only possible if we actually have devolved government with an Executive and an Assembly.

“Because it isn’t only in the Department of Justice and in the Executive where Alliance has been making progress and delivering change.

“Kellie Armstrong has brought the Integrated Education Bill through Committee, Consideration and Further Consideration Stages of the process, largely unscathed and undiluted – quite an achievement for a back-bench MLA and one staff member when facing the weight of opposition of a DUP minister, backed by her party and department, not to mention sectoral interests.

“It has truly been a David and Goliath battle – a battle not to give integrated education an advantage over other schools, or to deprive other schools of resources, or to restrict parental choice as some have falsely claimed – but to level the playing field and support the choice of parents who wish their children to be educated together in a fully integrated setting.

“Of course we are not out of the woods yet. The DUP continue to seek the extra signature needed for their petition of concern to kill the Bill. Whilst that comes as no surprise to those familiar with the antics of Castlereagh Borough Council in the 1980s, where some councillors did everything but lie down in front of the diggers to stop Lagan College coming into being, it is depressing that there is still such hostility to educating children together in 2022.

“It’s almost as though some people fear what will happen if the barriers in our community are broken down and people realise just how much they have in common; that together, we can achieve so much more than apart.

“I also want to put on record my gratitude to Chris Lyttle, who as Chair of the Education Committee, played a not insignificant role in ensuring that Kellie’s Bill made it past committee stage and who has also managed to make progress with his own Bill to remove the exemption for teachers from Fair Employment legislation, again placing equality and inclusion at the heart of education. Let’s hope it gets a fair wind and completes before the end of this mandate.

“Chris’s wider work in championing the concerns of teachers, staff and parents throughout Covid in particular, with both persistence and forensic attention to detail, led to more than one teacher and parent describe him as “the best Education Minister that Northern Ireland never had”. I can’t think of a better description or a more fitting tribute to Chris as he approaches not just the end of this mandate, but the end his service in full-time politics.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Chris from he was a youthful, fresh faced politics student until the broken husk of a 40-something man that joined us earlier today. Some people might claim that’s cause and effect! Seriously though, East Belfast and those in the education and childcare sectors, in particular, will be losing a fierce and dedicated advocate. For me it feels more like losing a limb than a colleague, after 20 years of working together. I’m sure we’ll find an opportunity to properly say thanks to Chris for all of his hard work but for now, I want to wish him, Lorraine, Caleb and Grace every best wish for the next chapter.

“Sadly, not all Bills make it through the Assembly: despite our best efforts, John Blair’s bill to ban the hunting of mammals with dogs was voted down by Sinn Fein supported by some in the DUP. Despite Mary Lou McDonald telling animal welfare organisations in the south that when the next opportunity arose, SF would vote for a hunting ban, they blocked it at second reading.

“John’s Bill falling is a good illustration of two things – it shows us what happens when other parties who talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk still have a majority in the Assembly; more importantly, it shows us the difference that more Alliance MLAs would make. Just four more Alliance MLAs would have delivered the Hunting Ban in Northern Ireland. Let’s make sure we’re back in the next mandate, with those extra MLAs, to finish the job.

“In this and so much more, our Assembly team has been punching well above their weight. Paula, Stewart and Andrew are examples of the best kind of political representatives: hard-working on their committees and in their constituencies, forensic in their scrutiny and utterly dedicated to improving Northern Ireland.

“Sadly the same cannot be said for all of our political leaders. We meet at a time when, yet again, our institutions are beset by instability. The absence of a First Minister, while no longer able to cause the collapse of the Assembly has deprived us of that working Executive, at a time when many key decisions still depend on it.

“We’re emerging from a pandemic, fighting a battle against climate change, facing a cost-of-living crisis and there’s a war on our doorstep in Eastern Europe. This is not the time to walk away from government, this is time to lead in government.

“This week, I met with Home Office ministers about a bill which Westminster is bringing forward urgently to strengthen Unexplained Wealth Orders and account seizure and forfeiture powers, as well as increase transparency of shell companies and trusts, as part of their sanctions against Russia.

“For Northern Ireland to be able to keep pace and ensure that we don’t become a haven for dark money, we need a legislative consent motion. However, that is impossible without an Executive in place. We are now seeking legal advice in the hope we can work around that barrier, because some refuse to do the job they were elected to do.

“Next week, on March 11th, we will be making the apology the late Sir Anthony Hart recommended to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse; however, the state apology will now be made by five government ministers, one from each Executive party, rather than by the First and deputy First Ministers, a situation which has divided victims and survivors and caused genuine hurt and distress among those who believe that this is, in some way, a downgrading of its status.

“Whilst we have done all we can to ensure and reassure that this is not the case, it pains me that some of those who have had to fight so hard and wait so long to have their voices heard and to receive the recognition, acknowledgement and apology they so deserve now feel in some sense cheated by the absence of a First Minister and deputy First Minister to deliver it.

“And of course, we have now had to suspend plans for the delivery of a three-year budget. Whilst I made my concerns about the impact the draft departmental allocation would have on the justice system, I was absolutely committed to working with Executive colleagues to resolve those issues during the consultation period, so that together we can provide the certainty of increased health funding required to deliver transformation so desperately needed.

“Instead, in the absence of an Executive, the consultation is paused and without certainty of funding, many health reforms are on hold – yet again – while our beleaguered health workers continue to battle within a system with some of the worst hospital waiting lists in western Europe, and under the morale-sapping pressure of unsustainable workloads.

“Those who have worked on the front line in the fight against Covid for the last two years deserve better than just a clap for carers – they deserve politicians who will deliver a system that is fit for purpose and sustainable for the future.

“And we know from talking to our constituents on the doors steps that the health service is by far their main concern. That’s why this week, Paula launched our latest health paper, Fighting Fit, setting out how together, we can start to reform and rebuild our broken health service, addressing waiting lists, invest in mental health and preventative services.

“And whilst the health service is the main concern, the mounting cost of living crisis runs it a close second. Rapidly rising gas and fuel costs – including an eye watering 39% gas price hike yesterday – is making it difficult for families to make ends meet.

“That’s why this week, we launched our plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis – setting out clear actions both in Westminster and Stormont – which would help families currently struggling to choose between eating and heating.

“With so much important work to work to do, it is hard to fathom how we are again without an Executive only two years after restoration. It seems that some politicians are addicted to crisis and conflict, and simply not up to the job of actually governing.

“People have had enough of the constant dramas and the political soap operas. They want politicians who don’t just identify more problems – or worse still, add to them – but who are focused on finding solutions, on making things better.

“But it doesn’t have to be like this though. Yes, we know there are huge challenges ahead – from the climate emergency to the spiralling cost of living – but together, we can face them.”

The speech ended with a rallying call …

“Conference, May’s election won’t just determine how our politics works for the next five years, it will determine if our politics works.

“This May, together we can deliver a bigger Alliance Team … a team that will not just deliver more but better. One that ensures that together, we can secure reform of the Assembly, move away from binary politics that seeks to divide people and ensure no one party can hold progress to ransom.

“Together, we can deliver Alliance’s Green New Deal to meet the climate emergency head on and create 50,000 Green high paid, high skilled sustainable new jobs, boosting sustainable growth and creating new opportunities for our young people.

“Together we can build a positive, inclusive and shared society, a vibrant and safe community which embraces and celebrates diversity as a strength.

“Together, we can build bridges, not barriers. Inspire hope, not fear. Fight poverty and inequality, not each other. But Conference, we can only do it together. Each of you has a key role to play in making this a reality. Your help is crucial if we are to reach as many people as we can with our message between now and the 5th May. We have exactly two months left. The opportunities are real. Change is possible.

“Conference, let us use every minute of the next two months. Let us leave nothing in reserve. Let us encourage our community to have big ambitions and work together to realise them. Let’s offer people the hope of better, and let’s give everything we have to deliver it.

“Conference, I believe we have the people, the policies and the passion needed to build a truly progressive, inclusive and prosperous future for all of our people, to deliver the transformation our public services, our politics, our people so desperately need.

“Conference, on the 5th May, together, we can. And we will. Thank you.”

After lunch, delegates heard from Superintendent Lindsay Fisher of the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, and a panel of external experts discussing the Green New Deal (Aoife Hamilton/Employers for Childcare, Jane Clarke/RSPB, Ciara Fitzpatrick/QUB, Jonathan Hobbs/NI Greenways).

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