Belfast Telegraph

Foster stresses collective approach for new executive

The days of Stormont ministers "working in silos" are over, First Minister Arlene Foster has insisted.

The DUP leader said the new-look executive would work "collectively" across its streamlined nine departments to "deliver the best possible outcomes for Northern Ireland".

"It is time to move Northern Ireland forward with a completely new way of doing politics," she said.

"It is time for a new, better and innovative approach. There will be no more working in silos."

Mrs Foster made the pledge during an Assembly debate on the coalition executive's framework programme for government.

The 114-page document is structured around 14 generalised "outcomes" with 42 proposed indicators to measure progress towards them.

Among the outcomes are pledges to create a more equal society; to develop a stronger, more balanced economy; to enjoy long and healthy lives; to foster a safe community and respect for the law; to deliver high quality public service; and to encourage respect for diversity.

The approach has been criticised by rivals of the DUP/Sinn Fein administration who have branded it nothing more than a list of vague aspirations with no firm goals.

But the main parties insist that setting a general framework, and then conducting a public consultation to help shape the ultimate policies, will ensure the maximum degree of community buy-in.

Politics has entered a new phase in Northern Ireland in the wake of the Assembly election after erstwhile junior executive partners the Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Alliance chose not to re-enter the coalition executive and instead scrutinise the government from the opposition benches.

The move has significantly altered the dynamic inside the assembly chamber and around the executive table.

Independent Assembly member Claire Sugden is now the only minister who is not a member of the DUP or Sinn Fein.

Mrs Foster said there were no easy solutions to many of the problems facing Northern Ireland and that was why a new approach to governing was needed.

"We agreed that a new approach should first identify desired societal outcomes and look at what should be done to achieve them," she said.

"Outcomes-focused means being citizens-focused and evidence-based. It requires a collective approach, looking to draw in all the contributions in Government and, importantly, beyond Government, to make the biggest and best difference possible. It makes a real statement of shared purpose at political, administrative and societal level."

Official Opposition leader Mike Nesbitt branded the approach "motherhood and apple pie" and claimed the two main parties were already behind schedule in creating the five-year plan for governing.

The Ulster Unionist claimed the DUP and Sinn Fein made similar pledges about delivering for the people after the 2011 election.

He said: "While I can welcome a focus on delivery, I have to say this: we have heard it before, we will not be fooled again."


From Belfast Telegraph