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It's time to stop blaming others for our woes

Unfortunately, the Belfast Telegraph, in Ed Curran's open letter to David Cameron (Comment, October 10) is the latest organisation to fall for the typical trap into which so much of our political discourse falls - our tendency to blame all our problems on someone else.

Firstly, I would reverse Mr Curran's invitation. Perhaps he should go to Easterhouse in Glasgow and explain why every Scot receives £2,000 less in spending versus tax contributed than we do? Perhaps he should go to Benwell in Newcastle, or Croxteth in Liverpool, or Hackney in London and explain why this gap rises to £3,000 per head?

Secondly, Mr Curran directly equates levels of public spending with solutions to issues such as paramilitarism, repossessions and business failures. However, since our levels of public funding per head are much higher than elsewhere in the UK, if public funding is the solution, then why do we continue to have those problems?

Thirdly, Mr Curran's letter is directed to the wrong tier of Government. If he wants solutions to social issues, such as paramilitarism, housing issues, or enterprise issues, we have our own ministers dealing with those. The fact is we (i.e. the people of Northern Ireland) have chosen to ignore these problems on the pretence that 'public funding' can solve everything.

We could also have tackled the costs of segregation and transferred the savings to direct public services. Yet instead we reduced our own public spending budget by introducing free prescription charges for people who could afford them, rates relief for people who live in mansions and free public transport for people who didn't need it.

These are fundamental points which must be grasped urgently. We may be different, but our social problems are not particularly unique; we may want money spent, but unless it is spent wisely on the right policies it will achieve nothing.

We may find it convenient to blame everyone else for our woes, but the whole point of democracy and of devolution is that it puts the power in our own hands.

I have no problem living in the lowest-taxed part of the UK, but I do not expect everyone else in the UK to make up all of the shortfall.


Newtownabbey, Co Antrim


From Belfast Telegraph