Alliance MP Mrs Long received the backing of Prime Minister David Cameron after raising the subject during Prime Minister’s Questions today (Wednesday) in Parliament. It followed a major new poll in a local newspaper this week, which stated just over 67 per cent of people aged 16 – 24 saw their futures outside Northern Ireland. This was compounded by over 70 per cent of the same age group admitting it was their view that local politicians’ inability to agree a shared vision of the future played a significant role in that perspective.
The East Belfast MP called on Mr Cameron to agree the poll’s results should be “a wake-up call” for those who still “indulge in the politics of division and fear”.
“This poll has made it clear that young people are frustrated by lack of coherent vision and leadership given by those who like the trappings of leadership but are reluctant to fulfil the role’s demands. Real direction and delivery is needed to inspire and convince young people that they should remain on our shores instead of seeking opportunities elsewhere.
“Other parties seem intent on at best managing and at worst exploiting divisions rather than seeking to overcome them. That is not responsible behaviour and will inevitably lead to more young people leaving Northern Ireland and not returning.
“I am pleased the Prime Minister agreed what Northern Ireland needs is politicians to build a shared future, which would lead to the removal of barriers to participation and create the optimal conditions for growing our economy, ensuring better opportunities.
“Of course gestures and historic moments are an important part of moving society forward, but we need a rapid maturing of day-to-day leadership on a shared future to deliver the benefits where it matters for everyone. The constant bickering and squabbling needs to end, and there needs to a united focus on building a shared and prosperous future.”