Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: We have a duty to call time on waste

If ever an event served to focus minds in Northern Ireland it was Tuesday's emergency Budget. For it has delivered years of austerity for the province and, in truth, only the vaguest of promises of help to 'rebalance' our economy.

This newspaper remains unimpressed by the coalition government's approach to Northern Ireland and seeks evidence that it understands us - that it cares enough to target help where it is needed here. We seek no special favours just recognition of the history which has bequeathed the present socio-economic circumstances.

Nevertheless, that is for another day. Today what concerns us is that Northern Ireland does not fall back again into notions of victimhood - that there is nothing we can do but accept our fate. For there is much we can do.

Today in this newspaper there is more evidence of the poor governance that blights this province. And it is this which must be addressed if we are to steer successfully through the next few years.

Frankly, the docile acceptance of incompetence and outright skulduggery, often dressed up in bogus sectarian claims for justice, has to end now.

The stalemates and the chicanery, often tacitly accepted by us as long as it serves 'our side', must cease. Tuesday's Budget has taken away any possible argument. If we do not work together, if Stormont cannot place itself on a 'war footing', to tackle imaginatively and honestly as possible the huge cuts that are coming, carnage will ensue.

Decisions will be taken out of our hands, good people will be lost while waste continues. Frankly, we will continue to fritter money on the Irish language and Ulster Scots while those who could contribute to economic revival join the dole.

Consider just a few of the examples of stalemate and waste carried in our newspaper today. A report on a government body, Northern Ireland Water, revealing shoddy practice with little thought of value for money; a huge unwieldy local government structure costing millions still there because political will to change is not there; the scheme partially dropped due to fears that voters from the 'other side' would steal a seat or two; and some of those same councils wasting money on breathtakingly stupid schemes. The list goes on.

When the indulgent UK taxpayer, buoyed by an over-inflated housing bubble, was filling the coffers, simply relieved there was a semblance of peace in this troublesome land, we could get away with it.

Those days are over.

From now on it is our duty to protest whenever examples of self-serving leadership, waste and logjam arise. Jobs and livelihoods now depend on it. This is a defining moment for the governance of Northern Ireland. Let the days of slackness, intransigence and waste come to an end.

We should tolerate nothing less.

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