Belfast Telegraph

Executive warned on policies delay

Jobless young people in Northern Ireland could be rendered a lost generation if co-ordinated action is not taken by the Executive, the Assembly has been warned.

The failure to draw up a new programme for government (PfG) six months since the budget was struck is also putting frontline public services at risk, the SDLP claimed.

The party tabled a motion urging the DUP/Sinn Fein-led administration to publish a draft PfG, which sets out the Executive's joined-up policy framework for the next four years, without delay.

SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley told the Assembly that since the summer of 2008 there were an additional 29,000 people registered unemployed in the region while the percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds unemployed had risen from 12.1 % to 18.3% in the same period.

Supporting the motion, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), which on Monday published its own suggested PfG, blamed the hold-up on wrangles between Sinn Fein and the DUP on big-ticket issues.

UUP Assembly member John McCallister said: "On all of the big issues there is no agreement between the two big parties in this Executive, and that's where the blockages in this Executive are."

Sinn Fein junior minister Martina Anderson said it was more important to get the PfG right than to publish it quickly.

"I do agree that, yes, in a perfect world, we would have a programme for government prior to the determination of the final budget position, without doubt I think that is all our position," she said.

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