Former Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Ekin has said the people of Northern Ireland must abandon the sectarian political system, or face another two generations without real political leadership.
The Alliance Councillor stated: “This week has yet again been depressing yet unsurprising. Political leaders across the board have merely continued their wreckless ‘blame games’ while the people they supposedly represent have faced job losses, rates rises and incoming water charges.
“The silence in response to Alliance’s call for an all-party economic forum to deal with the real issues has been deafening.
“Instead, we had a Party Conference where we saw no leadership, only intransigence, insults and invective. Puerile jokes are no way to lead our people to a brighter future.
“Elsewhere we have denials of reality, denials of responsibility and denials of role in the parlous state of Northern Ireland. We have seen political leaders on television do nothing but blame the other side for collapsing institutions, not wanting to move on, and opposing equality – while they themselves have been unable to put forward a single serious proposal to break the deadlock.
“The sectarian political system has delivered nothing but naked populism. No wonder that people have given up on it. Meanwhile billions of taxpayers’ money is thrown at our problems with zero demonstrable effect.
“People are asking, where is the leadership on the matters which count? Are we likely to see local politicians come up with a plan to replace the hundreds of jobs lost in the last fortnight? Or with a plan to reduce the longest waiting lists in Europe? Or with a plan to tackle all the money tied up in adminstering education rather than delivering it? Alliance is the only party even trying to meet these challenges.
“I call on ordinary voters not to give up. I call on them to ask themselves what they can do to abandon this skewed, irresponsible, facile political system. And I call on them to consider that there is only one party outside that system which still has the influence to deliver constructive, practical and balance ideas for the improvement of Northern Ireland as a whole.
“If the people unite to deliver change, it will take more than a few puerile jokes and the odd swear word to stop them.”