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Executive may finally listen if we elect mavericks

Tuesday's BBC NI Spotlight programme was a major disappointment. Had the panel been serious about encouraging audience member Alan Hollywood's children to vote, the unintelligible shouting match that ensued over the hoary old chestnuts about the past, expenses, abortion and Brexit will probably have had the opposite effect.

Here we are, not three months from electing a new Assembly and the BBC cannot bring itself to have a reasoned discourse on the things that matter in this country.

I'm not saying the previous topics are not important. But we have heard them ad nauseam and they need to be kept in perspective.

On Wednesday, Bombardier announced 1,000 redundancies - 20% of the company's workforce. Northern Ireland is way behind GB and the Republic of Ireland in creation of manufacturing jobs and the evidence of the disparity is reflected in lower average wages in the private sector, relative poverty representing 20% of our population and increasing child poverty.

If there is one matter that stands out about the outgoing Executive, it is its failure to address the economy in an imaginative and entrepreneurial way. That it should cut the allocation for the economy in the most recent Budget points to complete ineptitude in this matter.

There will be many disconsolate electors out there - probably even more than the 46% who chose not to vote in 2011.

I would encourage everyone to participate this time; to seek out the mavericks in each constituency prepared to stand against the traditional party strangleholds on our economic future.

John McCallister's Bill for an effective Opposition is a valiant effort by one man to hold the Executive to account. It will not succeed, as he hoped.

But return at least one John McCallister to the Assembly in each of our 18 constituencies and the Executive will have no option but to sit up and take note.


Leader, Democracy First

Belfast Telegraph


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