Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Big society is at the heart of response to riots

In his column (Comment, August 18), Liam Clarke asks 'whatever happened to the big society' in the aftermath of riots in England.

If Liam cares to read the Prime Minister's speech, delivered last Monday, he will find that the big society is right at the heart of the Government's response to the violence.

David Cameron is determined to combat welfare dependency, family breakdown, drug-addiction and gang culture, all of which form the depressing backdrop to the riots.

The Prime Minister has announced a far-reaching review of policy, to examine whether more can be done to encourage stronger families, greater educational attainment and more personal responsibility. The Government is working to give everyone a genuine stake in their communities.

It's only right and proper that there should be a security crackdown after the disgraceful outbreak of looting and criminality.

David Cameron is correct to commend judges for handing down exemplary punishments in order to send out a clear message that the scenes we saw two weeks ago were totally unacceptable and cannot be repeated.

The Government has devised a balanced response to the riots, which sticks to its 'big society' principles, but combats violence and thuggery on our streets.

David Cameron is committed to mending communities. Contrary to Liam Clarke's contention, it is a task well worth returning from holiday to tackle.

IRWIN ARMSTRONG

Chairman, Northern Ireland Conservatives

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