Cohesion, Sharing and Integration

Part of Northern Ireland Assembly – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 12th March 2012.

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Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin 3:00 pm, 12th March 2012

The First Minister and I are committed to providing leadership on improving good relations in our society. We know that the commitment to building a better future is shared right across our community. That was highlighted through the significant response that the Department received to the public consultation on the draft programme for cohesion, sharing and integration. That commitment is also shared across all five parties in the Executive. The Programme for Government, which the Assembly is being asked to endorse, underlines that by giving a firm commitment to build a united and shared society. We recognise that the key building block for achieving that will be the finalised cohesion, sharing and integration strategy.

The cross-party working group has been working intensively since September last year. It continues to meet weekly, and it has reached an advanced stage in its considerations. The group aims to complete its work and produce a final strategy and high-level action plan shortly. We recognise the importance of producing a strategy that will provide the strategic framework for us to continue to drive forward real and meaningful change right across our community, and we want to see that work reach a conclusion as soon as possible. However, we also recognise the importance of reaching agreement on the many complex issues that the strategy will seek to address.