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Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
NI society still 'deeply divided'
UDA and UVF flags fly  on Tates Avenue in south Belfast
Party has firm stance against illegal paramilitary flags
The leader of the Alliance Party has warned Northern Ireland could face a future of "apartheid" if the Good Friday Agreement is not properly implemented.

Launching the party's new policy document, Sean Neeson said the authorities needed to take a tougher stance against paramilitarism, intimidation and sectarianism.

Mr Neeson said Northern Ireland society remained a "deeply divided, sectarian and segregated society".

Sean Neeson: Alliance Party leader
Sean Neeson: Problem of divided society must be tackled
"So far there is no sense of the people of Northern Ireland uniting around a common agenda and pursuing common interests," he said.

"There is still a large unfinished agenda in our efforts to consolidate peace and stability and a foundation upon which to build a shared and non-sectarian, fair and more prosperous society.

"The opportunity that we have all been presented with must not be squandered."

In the 16-page document entitled "Centre-forward - Alliance leading the way", the party called for the introduction of "hate crimes" legislation to combat attacks based on sectarianism, racism, gender or sexual orientation.

It condemned ongoing paramilitary style attacks as "fundamental breaches of human rights".

The document also backed a "new beginning for policing" with a force that would be "representative of and responsive to the needs of the entire community".

The party is also demanding firmer action to counter intimidation, the painting of sectarian and paramilitary graffiti and kerbstones and the erection of illegal flags.

The party described itself as a "centrist, liberal, pro-European, anti-sectarian, cross-community party committed to power sharing".

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