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Tax spending must benefit communities

In a time of austerity when we all are being told to tighten our belts, it seems that our leaders' economic priorities are misguided.

Nationally, money is somehow still available to fund an unjustifiable war in Afghanistan. Billions will somehow be found to fund the Trident nuclear missiles.

Amazingly, there was no end of money to bail out the banks and top bankers continue to receive enormous salaries and bonuses.

Now €10bn has miraculously been obtained to help out Ireland. One bankrupt country borrowing money to help another more severely bankrupt country. Just how is this supposed to work?

Locally, high-wage private consultants continue to enjoy patronage in our Stormont administration while homegrown and imported benefit cheats continue to make a mockery of our once-enviable welfare system. Largely unnecessary Government-appointed quangos and commissioners still enjoy high salaries and perks.

Downing Street politicians insist that we need to be defended from international terrorist organisations like Al-Quaida and we need a nuclear deterrent to protect us from who knows what.

All well and good, but with ongoing policing cuts, a faraway war and a nuclear submarine offer me no reassurance that I can walk home in safety from a Saturday night out.

While all these extravagances can probably be justified by those with smooth tongues, I would ask where is the money for some very real spectres that stalk our land - cancer, suicide, HIV, multiple sclerosis, meningitis, care for the elderly and disabled?

Much more care needs to be taken about where taxpayers' money is spent. Communities, both locally and nationally, need to really think about this and at the next election vote accordingly - or it will always be a case of more of the same.