HideShow resource information

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Founded in 1970 from the New Ulster Movement, the Alliance Party originally represented moderate and 'non-sectarian Unionism'. Overtime, particularly in the '90's, it moved towards neutrality on the Union, and has come to represent wider liberal and non-sectarian concerns. Opposes consociational power sharing as deepening the sectarian divide, and, in the Assembly, it is designated as neither unionist or nationalist, but 'Other'. 

Alliance is a liberal and 'nonsectarian' party. NI's fifth-largest party overall, 8 seats in the NI Assembly and 1 in the House Of Commons. Founding members resolved to change the 'traditional mould' of the sectarian politics in NI by launching a party deliberately set out to win support from both sections of the community. PArty's founding principles were an attempt to address the 'fundamental fears' of Potestantsa being concerned into a united Ireland, and of Catholics being condemned to a second-class citizenship within NI.

2007 NI Assembly elections, Alliance put in a strong media campagin and polled 5% up from 3.6% in the previous election with Alliance gaining a seat in Belfast South following the successful candidature of Anna Lo, first ethnic Chinese representative in a national assembly anywhere in Western Europe. In an election cycle where many pundits had predicted that Alliance party would struggle to hold on to the 6 seats it won in the 2003 election, PArty pulled off a credible performance which included Deputy Leader Naomi Long doubling her share of the vote in Belfast East. 

In 2010 general election, the party won its first seat in Westminster, Naomi Long taking the seat of First Minister Peter Robinson. 2011 NI Assembly Election resulted in 8 Assembly members being returned with a gain in Belfast East. Overtook UUP on Belfast City Council. 

1 of 4

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Alliance and communal politics.

Biggest electoral problem, the dominance of the constitutional issue in NI politics. Particularly, in times of crisis, or where there is a close contest for the seat between nationalist and unionist the Alliance vote suffers. E.g the Hunger Strikes of 1981 decimated the APNI vote and in the west of the province, the APNI vote is squeezed or non-existent. 

APNI vote is strongest in liberal South Belfast, and in areas where opposition can combine to get the APNI to challenge unionists. 

Also blames some of the GFA's features like designation, cross community voting and mandatory coalition, for its lack of votes. Suggests the GFA voting mechanisms 'institutionalize sectarianism' making it normal and legitimate. Other parties are prevented from realizing 'non-sectarian' politics and promoting other issues. E.g 'other' is a worthless category in cross-community votes where only 'unionist' or 'nationalist' count for anything.

APNI prefer the system that operates in Belfast City Council of that of the Assembly where Alliance often holds the balance of power between Nationalists and Unioists. Situation gives APNI power far beyond its numerical strength. Other parties would not like to see such a thing. 

APNI Policies.


Known for promoting peace, reconciliation, integration betweeen the two communities and environmental issues. Some of the main policies and issues it has been associated with are;

2 of 4

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Justice Ministry Controversy

Because DUP and Sinn Féin forged a deal whereby both parties agreed neither would seek the newly developed Justice Ministry and that d'Hondt formula for appointing Ministers would be set aside, David Ford of APNI was elected to the post through cross community vote. A sunset clause in the motion meant that this could only be a temporary arrangement until May 2012. It had to be decided if the Executive wanted to continue with the arrangements for the Justice Ministry, or had back the powers to Westminster. 


In December 2011 a motion called on the DUP Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, to place a moratorium on exploration for shale gas until an environmental impact assesment has been done, and urged greater support for renewable energy. Hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' is a process of forcing water mixed with chemicals through deep wells to shatter and crack hard shale rocks to release the gas inside. 

Shared Future Policy

The APNI are the chief advocates of the Shared Future Policy which would encourage reconsiliation between the two communities in NI. It would make it law that the Housing Bill. It would also require public bodies to promote shared space. Also calls for ceasing of tolerance of illegally erected flags and emblems. APNI would also like to develop work with communities to secure the removal of 'peace walls'.

3 of 4

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Reforms to Government.

APNI would like to end the 'sectarian designation system' for MLA's in the Assembly. They feel this system marginalises 'others' and makes their votes worthless. It therefore discourages politics outside the traditional communal blocs.

Create and Executive formed through negotiation that operates to an agreed Programme- ending the manditory coalition. Party would also reduce Government Departments from12 to 8 and reduce the number of MLA's to 80.

4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Government & Politics resources:

See all Government & Politics resources »See all UK political parties resources »