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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Devolution: Alliance Party
As the parties involved in talks on the future government of Northern Ireland take part in this week's key summit in Scotland, we take a look at the key issues and players.

As a cross-community party, Alliance has always been critical of the voting system at Stormont.

They believe the system by which assembly members have to designate as unionist, nationalist or other freezes politics into tribal blocs.

Alliance saved the old executive on one occasions by temporarily redesignating themselves as unionists and nationalists to overcome one crisis.

David Ford
Alliance has always been critical of the voting system at Stormont
But they have vowed to never do this again and want major reforms to the rules designed by the Good Friday Agreement.

This stance has occasionally put Alliance in the same camp as the DUP as both parties are fond of the idea of a voluntary coalition based on weighted majority voting.

Given that this is not going to emerge from St Andrews, Alliance is looking for greater collective responsibility in any future executive.

In contrast to the SDLP, Alliance likes the idea of a vote in which the assembly gives its verdict on the entire proposed executive.

Alliance has suggested a two year target for devolving policing and justice powers.

The party was highly critical of the proposed legislation which would have given on the run paramilitaries an effective amnesty.

Alliance says that if IRA fugitives are to be allowed to return home then so must those exiled by the paramilitaries.

It wants any threats against exiles to be formally lifted. In the run-up to the St Andrews talks the Alliance leader David Ford called for the appointment of an independent commission of domestic and international experts to examine issues related the past and its legacy.

The party is also keen that government attempts to promote a "shared future", or greater cross community cooperation in society, should be linked to the development of the political process.

Alliance has expressed concern about the government's plans for rates reform.

It favours a local income tax. Alliance's former Belfast Mayor Tom Ekin has called for the introduction of a new capital based rates system, which is due in the spring, to be delayed by one year.




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