Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Public rally will pile pressure on Stormont to end stalemate

Talks led by Dr Richard Haass broke down on New Year's Eve
Talks led by Dr Richard Haass broke down on New Year's Eve

Politicians will be urged to take a "real risk for peace and progress" in the wake of the failure of the Haass talks, as trade unions pile the pressure on Stormont at a public rally next week.

MLAs will be warned that ongoing stalemate at Stormont is punishing their own voters.

The demonstration at Belfast City Hall tomorrow week is being organised by the Northern Ireland committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

Talks led by former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass on flags, parades and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles broke up on New Years Eve without agreement.

Since then there as been a growing gulf between the parties on how to take the proposals forward.

ICTU said voters want MLAs to focus on hospitals, schools and attracting more and better jobs.

Assistant general secretary Peter Bunting said: "At the rally, we will call on our politicians to take a real risk for peace, progress and equality, and honestly confront the consequences of political stalemate and its effect on our economy and society.

"We are convinced that the people of Northern Ireland would like to see the NI Assembly concentrate on delivering decent public services, like schools and hospitals, while facilitating more and better jobs, especially for our young people.

"We want an economy that works for all. We want the promises of the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement to be met. We want a shared society and we want a Bill of Rights to empower the citizens."

In an article for today's Belfast Telegraph he argued the last 18 months had seen political stalemate become the norm.

"The voters who elected (this current Assembly) are being punished by decisions not being made by the Executive. It is time to demand action from our political parties," the article stated.

The lunchtime gathering is the first of its kind since the murder of prison officer David Black in November 2012.

BACKGROUND

ICTU's list of Top 5 Stormont failures:

Executive parties have failed to make real progress or reach agreement on:

* An Education and Skills Authority

* A Bill of Rights

* A Shared Future

* The mess over academic selection

* Maze/Long Kesh Development Centre

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