Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Election 2014: Northern Ireland's parties tell us why you should give them your vote

Voters pictured at Dundonald Elim Church in east Belfast casting their vote
Voters pictured at Dundonald Elim Church in east Belfast casting their vote

Electors go to the polls tomorrow to return members to 11 new 'super-councils' in the biggest shake-up of local government in Northern Ireland for 40 years. Here the main parties say why they deserve your vote.

ALLIANCE

Tomorrow, real change is possible for Northern Ireland – but only Alliance is capable of delivering for everyone.

Tomorrow, the power is in your hands.

By stepping forward and voting Alliance, you can send a clear message to those determined to keep us firmly in the past: enough is enough, tribal politics must end.

After a year of negative headlines, damaging protests and political stalemate, there has never been a more crucial time to vote Alliance; stepping forward with us to secure a new progressive and inclusive style of politics.

And with fewer councils gaining greater powers, it is essential your representatives are committed to serving everyone.

While others have failed to show leadership – even refused to work together – Alliance has promoted good relations, shared spaces and shared housing.

Our councillors have worked for integrated education, best value for ratepayers and led the way in increasing transparency in council decisions.

Unionists and nationalists have brought stalemate to Stormont. Don't let their lack of ambition lead to lack of action on your council.

You've seen Alliance in action, with real delivery in Westminster, Stormont and councils.

Now it's your chance to make our vision for a shared Northern Ireland a reality.

Change happens when people step forward.

Tomorrow, step forward and vote Alliance.

DUP

With new powers coming to councils in Northern Ireland, it is vital that you have the very best people representing you.

In this election, all 190 DUP council candidates are making five pledges.

At the top of our agenda is delivering the best possible services at the lowest possible rates. The DUP is a low-tax party and we want to see the burden reduced on hard-pressed households.

As we seek to emerge from recession, all councillors will ensure that red-tape and bureaucracy does not get in the way of jobs and investment. We will work to build economic prosperity.

Those who would seek to remove British symbols cause hurt and division by their actions.

The DUP believes in protecting the Union flag and other symbols of our Britishness. Any DUP mayor, or deputy mayor, will also support an armed forces charity during their term in office.

Recent cases of animal cruelty have also shocked the community and it is the responsibility of local government to deal with these issues.

We will work to ensure that animal welfare officers are better resourced and given more powers.

The DUP is the party for Northern Ireland and we are standing up for what matters most.

GREEN PARTY

The Green Party in Northern Ireland is a local party with a global vision.

We stand for transparent, active democracy and for social justice and equality in an inclusive, non-sectarian society.

We believe in clean politics in a clean environment – that is why we refuse corporate donations and publish all our donations over £500.

We recognise that the best way to make the transition to a fair, sustainable society is to think globally and act locally.

This is a time of change: local councils are about to undergo radical restructuring. We must seize this unique opportunity to ensure that local politics is changed, too, and changed for the better.

The Green Party is the party with the vision to lead this change. We believe in councils that listen and councillors who work not for one or another section of society, but for the common good.

This is your opportunity to choose councillors who will clean up our politics; tackle our planning problems; build healthy and sustainable neighbourhoods; address our waste and transport issues, and clean up our environment.

Together we can create vibrant, socially inclusive communities that are economically dynamic and strong enough to adapt effectively to change.

NI21

NI21 is standing on a platform of radically reforming politics in Northern Ireland, moving beyond tribal divisions towards effective government and politics focused on the common good, jobs and quality of life.

Councils are changing. The 11 new councils will be given significant additional powers over planning, urban regeneration, housing, economic development and tourism.

There are significant opportunities to ensure you have a greater say in how your area develops and the services it provides to you and your family.

This is the most important local election for 40 years. NI21 has warned against the dangers of devolving the divisive politics of the Northern Ireland Assembly to our new councils.

If more powers are placed into the hands of the old, divided and dysfunctional political parties – who care more about flags than jobs – communities and community relations could suffer.

We need fresh, positive faces in local government; local people focused on representing the entire community to deliver jobs and prosperity.

If you want local councils with an Executive model of governance, which is capable of delivering a clear mandate and effective and efficient decisions which will benefit you and your family, if you want real politics, vote for NI21 tomorrow.

NI CONSERVATIVES

NI Conservatives are a fresh, centre-right, pro-Union party, which is proudly and distinctively Northern Irish, but remains a full part of the UK Conservative Party.

Northern Ireland has changed beyond recognition, but our party political system has not caught up. The constitutional question is settled and there is an appetite to move beyond carve-up, to address issues which make a real difference to people's lives and build a shared society for all.

Things like creating jobs, rewarding hard work, protecting the vulnerable, encouraging strong families and building harmonious communities.

We believe enterprise and entrepreneurship, through the private sector, are key to creating jobs and building prosperity.

Councils should help, rather than hinder, local businesses, which create jobs for local people.

We'll oppose waste and demand that ratepayers get the best value for money services.

Councils should always focus on the needs, priorities and ambitions of communities. This year, people in Northern Ireland will have a chance to elect local councillors to new councils with enhanced powers. It is an opportunity for a new approach to local politics.

A vote for NI Conservatives is a vote to strengthen local democracy, empower your community and change your area for the better.

PUP

The Union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is safe and secure. Our attention must now turn to a new challenge – securing quality of life and civil entitlements within the United Kingdom equally, including for ordinary, working-class Protestants, who are becoming increasingly marginalised and excluded.

Sinn Fein, having admitted defeat in their ambition to deliver a united Ireland, are deceiving and appeasing hardliners within their own community through launching attacks on parades, flags, symbols and Protestant working-class culture.

The other main unionist parties, fuelled by self-interest and greed, want the working-class vote in return for delivering nothing.

The PUP offers a positive and community-led response to social and economic exclusion, while campaigning for the protection of the entitlement to celebrate culture and identity without interference from the Parades Commission.

Our policies include community-based measures to address poor educational attainment, through encouraging participation in learning and increasing parental involvement in children's learning; enterprise zones to promote economic development and job-creation in areas of high social need; ensuring a full rate is applied to privately-owned derelict land; measures to promote community safety and health and well-being; and equitable investment and allocation of resources to include loyalist marching bands and events.

SDLP

This is no ordinary election. These local government elections have been fought on the important issues that affect families across Northern Ireland.

Voters have the opportunity to vote for candidates for new larger councils that will result in a more modern and accountable form of local government.

It was the SDLP which delivered on local government reform – something others failed to do for the past 12 years.

With local government reform, the SDLP has ensured greater accountability and openness.

The SDLP may not like the 11-council model, but change is essential if we are to move on from adversarial politics and provide stronger services for the community.

With 119 SDLP candidates standing in 68 DEAs in 11 super-councils, 34% of whom are women, the SDLP is providing a balanced ticket between energetic, young, new candidates and those who are older and more experienced.

As SDLP candidates have canvassed across Northern Ireland, the message from voters has been clear and consistent: they are feeling fed up and let down. This is their opportunity to create change for the better.

This is no ordinary election. It is up to the voters to ensure that there is no ordinary outcome.

SINN FEIN

Sinn Fein have a strong record of delivering for the people across Ireland.

We pride ourselves on our reputation of working on the ground with the local community.

Right across the island, our councillors deliver a range of services to enhance the lives of all of our citizens.

Equality is at the heart of all our work and we have argued for a more equitable system of democratic governance within councils through real sharing of powers and responsibilities.

In councils where Sinn Fein holds the balance of power, we ensure fairness in representation and council positions and will continue to do so in any new council arrangements.

Sinn Fein has put economic regeneration at the core of the council agenda and successfully argued for economic tools to be central to locally-driven regeneration, tackling austerity and creating jobs.

Sinn Fein believes in providing value for money through our councils and has worked hard to ensure that ratepayers are getting the most for their money.

A vote for Sinn Fein is a vote for a strong team that will make your council more accountable, delivering for everyone.

TUV

Recent events show that there is a concerted attempt by republicans to strip councils of their Britishness.

The Haass process achieved no progress on this issue. The constant effort to use the Irish language as a political weapon is something which TUV will continue to resist.

Every council needs TUV there to lead the resistance to further attack on the unionist identity. Not fettered by coalition with Sinn Fein, TUV will not roll over.

The passing of long-established councils must not cause areas to be sidelined. TUV pledges to fight to ensure that the interests of areas which once had a council, which added to a sense of local identity, don't lose out when swallowed up into much bigger councils.

TUV is a party with a consistent track-record of exposing waste and promoting transparency. TUV candidates are committed to bring this approach to council and seeking to keep your rates as low as possible.

The new councils will have significant new planning powers. TUV wants to see unreasonable barriers to economic development removed.

However, we note that, in the past, connections between some political parties and developers have caused considerable public unease.

Free of any vested interests with developers, TUV councillors will fight for fairness and transparency when it comes to this important issue.

Ukip

Ukip's demand for 'local referendums' sets it apart from all the other parties.

We want to radically change how local councils are run, opening them up to more direct democracy, giving the people a greater say.

People are not voting because they think it makes little difference.

Ukip wants to bring the people into the heart of government. Ukip will include, not exclude, people in decision-making.

Up to now, our councils have all too often been full of self-important councillors, who waste ratepayers' money on white-elephant council headquarters and self-celebrating legacy projects, while doing little, or nothing, to protect our town centres from parking charges, often leading to retail collapse and boarded-up shops.

Ukip will end jobbery, co-option of relatives, will slash excessive pay deals for senior council staff and build inter-council partnerships to save ratepayers money, through widespread economies of scale. Ukip will actively seek out value for money.

Ukip will put the people in the driving seat, ending excessive interference by councils in people's lives.

Ukip is the party of freedom and the champion of the people's liberty against power-grabbing, power-hungry, self-interested local elites. The last hour of these elites is the first hour of freedom.

UUP

If you place your trust in the Ulster Unionist Party, our councillors will work tirelessly for you.

They will ensure the most effective delivery of public services and will always seek to do what is right for Northern Ireland.

Savings should be passed back to homes and businesses through lower rates.

All of the Ulster Unionist candidates standing in this election are committed to ensuring that the services delivered by them are responsive to, and structured around, the needs of local communities.

That should be the very bedrock of local government.

We would have preferred a reduction from 26 councils to 15, rather than the 11 that are about to be implemented.

Our proposals would have preserved strong community identities with only a minimal added cost, while also ensuring more directly accountable delivery of local services.

This is sadly lacking in the new arrangement of local councils, with the restructuring being hijacked for political gain by the two current largest parties.

Dundonald will be linked with Lisburn and Londonderry with Strabane!

The councils are also becoming more powerful, with new responsibilities ranging from planning, economic development to urban regeneration.

The Ulster Unionist Party is determined to harness this opportunity for change.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz