Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland gets just nine lines in Labour party's manifesto

By Noel McAdam

A future Labour Government would devolve further powers to Scotland and Wales, the party's manifesto has pledged.

But there was no similar promise for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive.

Instead, Ed Miliband's focus would be on reducing unemployment and poverty in the province.

This would be achieved, according to the document, by focusing the economic pact between the Stormont Executive and the Government on jobs and growth.

The manifesto, launched yesterday in Manchester, dedicates just nine lines out of 85 pages to Northern Ireland.

It says: "Labour is proud of the role we played in bringing peace and stability to Northern Ireland through the Good Friday Agreement, and successive agreements.

"A Labour Government will engage proactively with the Northern Ireland Executive to support political progress, and deliver on its vision of a shared future."

The manifesto makes no mention, however, of Labour plans to organise in Northern Ireland - an issue Mr Miliband told the Belfast Telegraph he would re-examine after the election.

The economic pact between First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Prime Minister David Cameron - agreed two years ago - includes a drive to accelerate investment in infrastructure and to promote businesses in an effort to help construction.

Labour's blueprint, however, says: "We will ensure the economic pact between the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive is focused on stimulating jobs and growth which contribute to reducing unemployment and poverty."

The document also confirms that Labour intends to abolish the so-called bedroom tax, also called the spare-room subsidy, which matches one of the DUP's key demands for supporting either Labour or the Conservatives in the likely hung Parliament following the May 7 election.

Belfast Telegraph


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