North Down Alliance Councillor David Alderdice today said that Northern Ireland businesses are well aware that there has been no economic peace dividend. The former Belfast Lord Mayor stated that those calling for money saved on security to be spent elsewhere are talking about money that simply does not exist.
Dr Alderdice stated: “Anyone working in the private sector will tell you that there has been no direct ‘peace dividend’ for Northern Ireland businesses. Money has been invested in ‘peace programmes’ and ‘reconciliation projects’, many of them very worthy, but real assistance for business start-ups and investors has remained almost non-existent.
“People suggesting now that there is lots of money over from savings on security to spend on public services are being deliberately misleading. This money simply does not exist. The fact is that the subvention to Northern Ireland — i.e. the amount of public spending less the amount of revenue actually raised here — has doubled in the last ten years. Some peace dividend!
“The truth is that not a single one of the parties wanting to form the next Northern Ireland Executive is prepared to face economic reality. This reality is that there is no more money to spend on public services, that which is spent on public services is all too often wasted unaccountably, and we are simply not creating the wealth to meet our financial needs. As a result people are faced with rates hikes and extra charges which will cause many to slip further into debt, poverty and uncertainty. These people have every right to demand of politicians seeking ministerial office stop their ridiculous populist rants and instead get on with the job in hand.
“The Alliance Party is prepared to face these issues responsibly, realistically and rationally. If we want more wealth to redistribute and spend on public services, we are going to have to create it. And if we want public money spent on useful projects rather than thrown away on endless ‘strategy documents’ and pointless new quangos, we are going to have to get a local administration up and running for the benefit of everyone.
“Families and businesses face uncertain futures precisely because we cannot trust the parties competing for ministerial office to face up to facts and get on with the job. Our people deserve a lot better.