The Alliance Party has called on the Government to establish an all-party economic forum aimed at providing a package of measures to end Northern Ireland’s overdependence on the public sector, and ensure people are in a position to meet the demands or rates rises and rising energy costs. The call was central to the party’s proposals presented to the Secretary of
State and Irish Foreign Minister in Hillsborough earlier today [6 Feb].
Former Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Ekin, who attended the talks, stated: “We put it directly to the Secretary of State that the best way to move the talks process forward is to challenge politicians to produce an outcome on the economy. An economic roundtable would be the chance for our representatives to show whether they are really prepared to make politics
work for people, or whether they are merely caught up in silly games at all our expense.
“Our economy is a mess. Those trying to do the right thing by setting up in business, or by investing in Northern Ireland, are hindered rather than helped by the Government. They are stifled by Government hiking up business costs, seizing our best talent for the public sector, and endlessly delaying planning applications for new premises while charging rates on
empty ones. Small wonder that the ratio of people working for the Government rather than in business is higher than it was even in Communist Hungary. And all this is to provide ‘services’ – such as breastfeeding campaigns, anti-litter advice leaflets and Ulster-Scots dictionaries – that nobody needs and nobody asked for.
“This is a real issue, and it is up to our politicians to show they have the ability to deal with it. If they can’t focus on the real issues – getting people off benefit into work, providing assistance not hindrance to business start-ups, and promoting Northern Ireland as an investment location – then they have no business in politics to start with.”