Justice Minister David Ford has today said that Northern Ireland's goal must be the creation of secure, safer, shared communities.
Speaking at the annual Irish Association Conference in Newry entitled 'Northern Ireland: Solved - Not Settled', the Minister argued that while Northern Ireland is undoubtedly more settled than any time in its history, the real challenge remains the creation of a shared future.
Addressing the delegates, the Minister said: "I question if any society can be truly settled. Challenges we face today are not the same as the previous generation and will not be the same for the next. The real challenge for Northern Ireland is achieving the safer, shared, sustainable society the people deserve.
"We have come a long way in recent years. As a society, we are moving forward and we are in a better place. But whilst we can take heart from the progress that has been made, we must recognise more needs to be done."
Mr Ford also highlighted the importance of dealing with the past. He said: "How we deal with the past will either become another vehicle that takes us forward, or it will become a roadblock to progress."
The Minister explained how the devolution of policing and justice has an important role to play in Northern Ireland's future.
David Ford continued, "In the months ahead, I will be the first local Minister to set long term policing objectives for the PSNI. I will work closely with the Chief Constable, the Policing Board and the wider community in doing so. Devolution provides that opportunity to develop and shape policing.
"I also want us to live, work and play in safer communities. So the new Community Safety Strategy upon which I will be consulting in the months ahead will look at ways to reduce crime, reduce the fear of crime, promote a culture where diversity is celebrated not feared and look to build connections between people rather than walls to keep them apart."
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