Page last updated at 21:59 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Anti-sectarian plans are agreed by DUP and Sinn Fein

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson
The ministers have agreed a plan to tackle sectarianism

The first minister and deputy first minister have agreed a new blueprint for fighting sectarianism in NI.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness announced on Tuesday they had agreed a programme for cohesion, sharing and integration.

The community relations strategy formed part of the discussions around the policing and justice deal in NI.

The Alliance Party, who were concerned the issue had not been addressed, have welcomed the move.

Alliance Party leader David Ford said the announcement was a "positive step forward for Northern Ireland".

"Alliance looks forward to examining this document in detail," he said.

"A document is only a start.

"What matters is delivery and Alliance will be holding the first and deputy first ministers, and in fact the entire Executive, to account on how well they deliver."

SDLP assembly member Alex Attwood said he welcomed "any progress made to create a shared society, promoting good relations and deepening understanding between communities".

But he said the announcement by the first and deputy first ministers "must not be a carrot for the Alliance Party to nominate David Ford as the Justice Minister".

Ulster Unionist assembly member Tom Elliott has criticised the delay in bringing forward the plan and said it was "another example of Executive dysfunctionality".

Last year, the DUP said a Sinn Fein paper on community relations was "not a basis for building trust or confidence".

Sinn Fein released their document in September after the DUP had accused them of holding up the Executive strategy on cohesion, sharing and integration.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said a shared future was not "created by imposing their template rather than a template based on a broad consensus".

Sinn Fein said they were not to blame for delaying the Executive strategy.

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