TUV will end 'culture of squander', vows Allister
The TUV has launched its manifesto for next week's council elections with a call to end the culture of squander in local government.
Leader Jim Allister said the party was focused on three core issues - Brexit, the failures at Stormont and the recent rise in violent republicanism.
Taking aim at Sinn Fein, Mr Allister said his party "will never be fooled by the platitudes of republicans".
He was speaking as the TUV launched its manifesto at the Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus.
Northern Ireland goes to the polls next Thursday to elect councillors across all 11 local government districts.
Addressing those gathered, Mr Allister said: "We stand under a shadow because of the brutal murder of Lyra McKee.
"The murder of Miss McKee was wrong. So was the murder of all those who died at the hands of terrorists."
Mr Allister criticised Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson over a weekend Twitter post in which she said that a play park in Newry would retain the name Raymond McCreesh, a dead IRA hunger striker.
He said all Sinn Fein's words about outreach and respect was exposed in the message.
Turning to local government, Mr Allister said his party was committed to providing value for money for ratepayers.
"In our manifesto TUV outlines our priorities for the next council term and commits to being a party which stands for value for money for ratepayers, but it needs to be said at the outset that the big issues on the doorstep are Brexit and deadlock at Stormont," he added.
"Leavers are understandably angry that their vote has been ignored by the powers that be at Westminster.
"There was a clear commitment from all major political parties that they would respect the referendum result and yet the last three years have been characterised by politicians seeking to frustrate the will of the people.
"TUV's message that leave should mean leave and that Northern Ireland should leave the EU on the same basis as the rest of the UK is resonating well on the doorsteps.
"Equally TUV's clarity when it comes to Stormont - that it is time to shut it down if there is no will to bring in a democratic system which actually works - resonates with ordinary people."
These are the first council elections since the shake-up of local government in 2015, which saw the number of councils cut from 26 to 11. Yet questions continue to be raised around council pay-offs, six-figure salaries for senior officials and overseas trips.
Mr Allister criticised "the culture of squander" of local government, adding: "When it comes to local government the big issue on the doorstep is rates.
"When the 11 new super councils came into operation, we were promised we would see a saving of £438m over 25 years. Ratepayers have seen little sign of this.
"Rates have risen and there has been a culture of squander.
"TUV is a low tax party. We believe that you should keep as much of your money as possible and that you have a right to expect value for money when it comes to the money you contribute in direct taxation or in rates."
Mr Allister said the TUV had a proud record of challenging wasteful expenditure.
The manifesto touches on a range of other issues, including calls for cleaner streets, a "fair deal" on planning and meeting housing needs.