Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Politicians need to fast track policy plan

The Northern Ireland Executive has delivered an early present to Londonderry ahead of its term as UK City of Culture in 2013 by bringing forward plans to upgrade the railway line between the city and Coleraine.

Originally the work was not due to begin until 2014 because of pressures on the budget, but £27m has been found to start the upgrade. That is very welcome news because there were real fears for the future of this vital transport link.

Those who campaigned for the line to remain open and to be improved - including this newspaper which rallied support to the cause - will feel a certain amount of satisfaction that their voices were heard at Stormont.

The politicians have acted swiftly and decisively. The lack of a rail link to Derry during a year when it expects to attract record numbers of visitors would have had a very negative impact.

However, the politicians have still not acted quickly enough on finalising their Programme for Government. At a time when the economy is reeling, when businesses are closing daily, when workers are uncertain about their future and when every household is feeling the pinch, it is deplorable that the Government's strategies for the next few years are still uncertain. This is the last devolved administration in the UK to draw up its blueprint for Government.

Of course, no one expects the Programme for Government to solve all the problems facing people in Northern Ireland, but it is important to see where the priorities lie.

The politicians, through the Coleraine-Derry line initiative, have shown that they can take the initiative when it comes to boosting the economy by lending their support to potentially beneficial events.

Completing the Programme for Government would send out a powerful message that the administration is working for the benefit of everyone in the province and is sparing no effort in addressing the challenges facing it.

Taking until the New Year to complete it sends a much more negative message.

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