David Ford will lead an Alliance Party delegation to meet the Secretary of State and Irish Foreign Minister on Monday, to renew the party’s call for an all-party roundtable on the economy and warn against “quick fixes”.
David Ford will say: “The Government has set the challenge on the economy, and we are here to tell the Secretary of State that we are ready to meet that challenge.
“The Government is determined to make Northern Ireland pay its way, but we know many people in Northern Ireland simply cannot afford it. It is up to us as political leaders to deliver an economic package that increases our prosperity so that people do not have to risk their homes, jobs and livelihoods simply to pay rates.
“People across Northern Ireland are extremely concerned about how they are going to be able to afford rates hikes, water charges, and rising stealth taxes. We are concerned that they are only paying them in order for £1 billion every year to be wasted on segregating our public services – from education, to leisure, to health. We are the only party which has put forward proposals to abolish that £1 billion waste, and return the money to the people through realistic rates, no water charges, and more focus on developing local business and investment.
“To do this, we will need the parties to come together to deliver a clear economic package, through an economic roundtable. Having done this, we need a functioning legislative Assembly with local ministers who can be held responsible for implementing it. There are no ‘quick fixes’, and it is irresponsible of anyone to suggest there are.
“If, by this time next year, people are still facing the prospect of massive rates hikes without any sign of economic or political progress, it will be a clear sign that the Sectarian Political System has failed them, and must be abandoned.”