Former Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Ekin has challenged the Government to take positive steps for the economy while reducing unnecessary bureaucracy.
Speaking after meetings with business and community groups, Cllr Tom Ekin stated: “Local people know the arguments on the reduction of Local Councils from 26 to either 15 or 7. But this is not about drawing pretty lines on maps. It is about reducing the morass of bureaucracy which prevents us as a society achieving our goal of real peace, progress and prosperity. At the same time, we must make the private sector within Northern Ireland a much more appealing place for our best qualified people to work.
“The Review of Public Administration has reported, but has failed to address the key questions. Why does a population of 1.7 million need 11 devolved departments? Why does it take 7 years to do a Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan? Why do we continue to spend £1billion every year keeping sectarianism going?
“Very many people are fed up with the petty politics of Northern Ireland, they want to stay here and work here. But they cannot do so without a radical reduction in the inertia which has been developed by our dependency on others.
“We need turn our attention away from a culture of dependency to a culture of wealth creations, which can in turn provide more revenue for democratic politicians to spend on sorting out the real problems.
“Local businesspeople want effective delivery of ordinary services, not petty quibbling. Then we can start to market Northern Ireland as a very effective place for business and wealth creation, which in turn makes everyone better off.
“Local community groups want a place where everyone is accepted as equals, where they feel safe, and where we do not have to wade through a minefield of bureaucracy to achieve little or nothing.”
Cllr Ekin concluded: “Too many of us are too negative too often. We are risk averse. Too many are too comfortable and we ignore the problems on our door step. We have a chance to move Northern Ireland forward by starting a programme to reduce the number of people burdened with the daily chore of unnecessary administration in government. But at the same
time, we must have a programme to increase the number of people creating genuine wealth for everyone in the private and community sectors.
“To achieve this, we need real action, not platitudes and numbers games.”