Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 16:44 UK

Alliance 'not a sticking plaster'

By Gareth Gordon
BBC NI political correspondent

David Ford
David Ford was addressing delegates at the Alliance conference

The Alliance Party leader has given a broad hint that his party would consider taking any justice ministry, but only if fundamental changes were made across government.

David Ford told his party's annual conference in Bangor that they would "not be used to apply a sticking plaster over a serious fault-line in the executive".

Last month, Mr Ford gave "an emphatic and definite no" to taking the justice ministry, although this week he said "no politician with any wit ever says never".

On Saturday, he assured members of the cross-community party they would be in power soon - when the conditions are right.

The party was "not interested in being thrown a few sweeties," said Mr Ford.

He said the current budget for justice was inadequate and investment in community policing needed to be made.

Alliance would play "a constructive role in any way they could," he said, adding that there must be "fundamental reforms".

The party leader said he cared too deeply about the future of society to "prop up a failing sectarian and sectional executive".

He promised members that any decision would be based on making a real difference and fundamental changes to "the failures of the current directionless executive".

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