Ahead of local elections in May and amid continued Brexit uncertainty, members of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland met in Belfast on Saturday 2 March for their annual congress.
In her speech to the Congress, party leader Naomi Long MLA, said: “It is hard to believe that we meet again this year, for the third year in a row in the absence of a functioning Executive and [Northern Ireland] Assembly; without any clarity or certainty regarding the likely outcome of Brexit; and without any clear pathway from the chaos in which we are languishing to where we need urgently to be.”
“The Brexit people voted for can never be delivered,” she continued. “For every Leave vote, there was a different version of Brexit. While that is a fine strategy to win a referendum, it's a much less effective means of creating cohesion about the kind of future people want outside the EU.”
Referring to Alliance's strong record in local government, she said: “With Council elections exactly two months away today it is crucial that we focus all of our energy and resources in the next eight weeks to ensure that the one tier of government which is working, continues to deliver and that we increase the influence of Alliance across local government to make it deliver better.”
“We don't do that simply because we want Alliance to win – we do it because when Alliance wins, the people of Northern Ireland win too.”
“We can cast our votes as we always have and get more of what have now. Or we can cast our vote for Alliance, and demand better. People demand better. Let's deliver it.”
Local elections are scheduled to be held in Northern Ireland on Thursday 2 May. Alliance currently have 32 Council seats from a total of 462 across all 11 electoral districts.
At the Congress, the party launched its campaign broadcast video for the local elections (below) with the slogan “Better is possible. But only if you demand it.”
On the eve of the Congress, Alliance welcomed the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to its annual dinner.
You can read the full speeches of the Party leader Naomi Long and Deputy Leader Stephen Farry here