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Push on for ‘positive politics’ at Stormont

“A can do better” message is today being aimed at Stormont with the launch of a new campaign to encourage more positive politics in Northern Ireland.

The Platform for Change is being supported by people from many different walks of life.

Those behind it believe there is a public appetite for a political agenda that does not stem from the Troubles.

The initiative has already attracted more than 200 signatories ahead of being unveiled at a launch event today.

Speakers will include an individual campaigner with international recognition, former top-level sports figures, a leading writer and cultural commentator, and the principal of a prominent school.

Among the proposals contained in the platform are:

  • A resolution of the 11-plus stand-off through a broader |vision of what schooling is for.
  • Learning lessons from Europe to help normalise the province’s divided society.
  • Developing a ‘Green New Deal’ to tackle economic and environmental challenges.

The document says: “The better life we had hoped for following the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement is not being delivered. While a fragile peace has been a huge gain in our everyday lives, the politics of recent years has too often looked backwards rather than forwards, inwards rather than outwards to the wider world.

“This makes no sense to a new generation of voters.”

The secretary of Platform for Change is Nuala McKeever, a well-known figure in Belfast’s acting and comedy world. Its chair is the policy analyst Robin Wilson.

Ms McKeever said: “Northern Ireland has the potential to be a really vibrant society if it can shed the baggage of the past, hold on to its young talent and face, rather than fear, a rapidly changing world. I’m involved with Platform for Change |because I want that liberty, the foundation of cultural dynamism, and I want to see others enjoy it too.”

Dr Wilson added: “Platform for Change is a non-party and cross-party campaign for a new political agenda for Northern Ireland. But that is not all. It is also about a new way of doing politics, which encourages individual citizens to participate rather than leaving them feeling frustrated and alienated.”

Also speaking at the launch will be signatories drawn from business, trade unions and non-governmental bodies.

The Platform for Change says the first and deputy first ministers should each represent all the citizens of Northern Ireland.

And, looking to next year’s Assembly poll, it states: “The electoral agenda should be defined by how credibly parties seeking votes indicate they will collaborate in office to produce good public policies and services, rather than how they will veto the other side.’

It also calls for a genuine debate about the political structures that best serve all citizens. More flexible arrangements enjoying widespread confidence could enable genuine opposition at Stormont and allow people to vote for parties on ‘bread and butter’ issues rather than along sectarian lines, it states.

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