David Ford stated: “The Executive has set out a Programme which is more reminiscent of a schoolboy handing in his homework late than a Government seriously attempting to change our society. It is small wonder, therefore, that the First Minister was left to resort to schoolboy retorts rather than serious answers during the debate which followed.
“The four Executive parties were given additional resources by the Secretary of State last year, so that the could start work on this Programme. It looks like Peter Hain simply threw away taxpayers’ money for nothing.
“The document sets out policy areas, but does not make any serious attempt at prioritising them. The public will be left bewildered by a ‘motherhood and apple pie’ approach which makes no attempt at highlighting what the main issues are.
“Worse still, in the Public Service Agreements alongside the Programme, there is not a concrete action in sight. The Executive will ‘implement measures’, ‘conduct reviews’ and ‘take steps’, but not once are these measures, reviews or steps detailed. It is evident the Executive simply has no idea what it is doing.
“The targets are worthless if there are no actions to achieve them. Where they exist, actions seem identical to those the Executive inherited from Direct Rule. Was the Executive unable to agree a single policy initiative or new objective it wishes to take forward?
“The Executive need not accuse the Alliance Party of trying to play down Northern Ireland. The Executive parties have shown themselves to be content to accept the lowest common denominator – a flimsy document based entirely on direct-rule targets. We believe Northern Ireland could and should do much better than that.”