Belfast Telegraph

Politicians must unite to get us back to work

By David Elliot

With the digital television switchover approaching, it is perhaps astute planning which has brought to the fore a collection of programmes of a slightly different nature.

By now, everybody's had time to mull over the detail of a document which resembles the Christmas edition of the Radio Times magazine and is only slightly less difficult to understand.

Consensus opinion garnered from our enlightened experts praises the Programme for Government's aims but throws a few raised-eyebrow glances at how we're going to reach those targets. Without meaning to labour the point, creating 25,000 new jobs by 2014 is a tall order and needs more substantive commitments as to where they're going to come from.

Attracting £300 million of foreign direct investment is obviously going to help in that respect, but that will mean we're going to have to ramp up our "Come to Northern Ireland" campaign, not just from an investment perspective but also from a tourism point of view.

The latest news from elsewhere in the world over the last couple of days suggests any inward investment from some of the world's strongest economies is going to be hard won.

Stock markets around the world well and truly slumped on Monday when the US debt reduction supercommittee (when does a mere committee become super?) failed to reach agreement over how to save a few hundred million dollars.

Meanwhile, the new governments of Italy and Spain seemed to have been received by the markets with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders and a provocative 'show me what you are going to do'.

If these events prove anything in this increasingly globalised world it's that political harmony - normally only apparent here when Stormont hosts carol singers at Christmas - is essential in these jittery times.

Yes, the Programme for Government has been an age in the making and as about reactive to the worsening economic crisis as a koala bear sitting in front of a fire after a particularly heavy lunch, but it's here at last and is accompanied by some form of cross-party consensus.

Obviously some parties might not agree with the way parts of the PfG have unfolded but they need to get behind it.