The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland held its party conference on 7 March in Belfast, where the party marked its 50th anniversary and celebrated the past year's election successes and looked to the future.
In 2019, the party has seen elected this year 53 Councillors, its first MEP and its second-ever MP, in what they are calling the #AllianceSurge.
Party leader Naomi Long MLA, who recently served as the party’s first Member of the European Parliament but now serves as the Minister of Justice, was unable to attend the event due to illness, but wrote ahead of the event how the party were looking to build upon this momentum to become an even stronger force in Northern Ireland politics.
“I have no trouble looking at the 20% vote threshold and saying, that’s our next challenge. You have to aim high. There is no ceiling on my ambition for Alliance,” she wrote.
In her place, deputy leader Stephen Farry MP, who was elected the Member of Parliament for North Down in December’s general elections, delivered the keynote speech to Conference and remarked: “This is our 50th Anniversary Conference. And rightly, we will look back and reflect over the past half century with pride. At the same time, we come together at a time of unprecedented success and influence for Alliance.”
“People are often asking what were the factors behind Alliance’s success? For starters, Northern Ireland is changing, and changing more quickly than many appreciate. More and more people are moving away from traditional labels, and expressing open, mixed and multiple identities,” he said. “The old canard that a vote for Alliance is a wasted vote has been consigned to the dustbin of history. We have proven that we can win anywhere in Northern Ireland, and we have drawn votes from right across the community.”
“As Alliance enters its second half-century, we do so with confidence and pride. We have played a crucial and constructive role in transforming Northern Ireland. But there is so much more to do… The next few years are set to a roller coaster, but our vision and values will be instrumental in steering this society to a secure and better future.”