Alliance Assembly Enterprise Spokesperson Sean Neeson has said that the Irish Government’s agreement with Alliance that talks on the economy are urgently required lays down the gauntlet for the other parties.
The East Antrim MLA stated: “The Alliance Party proposed all-party talks on the economy directly to the Secretary of State and the Irish Foreign Minister on Monday. That Dermot Ahern has come out in clear support of our proposal by the end of the week sets the challenge for the other Northern Ireland Assembly parties.
“In the past fortnight we have seen significant industrial job losses, not least late this week in my own constituency. We need a clear economic strategy that has the backing of all the parties in the Assembly to redress this problem. We are now approaching 70% of our employees working for the state in one way or another – a totally untenable situation which
would have shamed Communist Eastern Europe.
“While all these jobs have been being lost, and people are wondering how they are going to afford the new rates, or new water charges, or ongoing charges to look after old people, what precisely have any of the ‘Big Four’ parties said about this? What plans have they put forward to deal with this? It is truly shameful that public representatives are not willing even to look at the real issues.
“Yet the fact is we can make a difference on the real issues, even now. My intervention secured the purchase of the SS Nomadic for our tourist industry, my colleague Kieran McCarthy led the way to secure free drugs for MS Sufferers, Eileen Bell continues to work for the betterment of victims. Yet the parties responsible for the Sectarian Political System
are fiddling while the Northern Ireland economy burns.
“The Irish Foreign Minister has taken my party’s point on board. There is no point talking about the technicalities of government institutions if we cannot deal with the practicalities of setting up a functioning economy. Currently, by the time we set up devolution, there will be no economy left to govern.
“So the question the Alliance Party is posing, now with Irish Government support is: are the other parties ready to meet the challenge, without condition, of all-party talks with the aim of setting up an economy, complete with challenging career paths, a strong record on start-ups and hi-tech investment?”