Over the last few years Northern Ireland has come a long way. Since the DUP became the largest party we have seen the Provisional IRA decommission, end their terrorist campaign and Sinn Fein support policing. Devolution at Stormont has been restored on a sustainable and lasting basis with the first full Assembly term completed for forty years. The people of Northern Ireland now have a real say in the issues that matter.
It hasn’t always been easy but we have made progress. Today Northern Ireland’s position in the United Kingdom is secure and the DUP working in the Assembly has started to make a real difference and deliver for people here. There is still a lot to do but a start has been made and we have laid strong foundations for the future. After decades of conflict, people now have hope for the future. In the next term we want to build on these foundations to help keep Northern Ireland moving forward.
MAKING STORMONT BETTER
We want to see an end to all the arguing and bickering, with Stormont working better.This means reforming our political institutions and how government works.We have made important changes to how decisions are taken and insisted that there will be a review of the arrangements at Stormont during the next four years.
We have proposals to normalise politics in Northern Ireland. We want to change the way the Executive is formed, move to weighted majority voting, end community designation, reduce the number of MLAs and departments, and create an opposition. In attempting to make things better we cannot afford however to put at risk all that has been achieved. Threatening to bring Stormont down is a recipe for political instability and a return to direct rule. Change will only come through agreement and we will work to bring that about for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.
A BETTER SECOND CENTURY
Following four decades of terrorism and division, politics in Northern Ireland is changing.We must deal with the legacy of that period and seek to build a more united community. The overwhelming majority of people who live here want to see Northern Ireland being successful. 2021 will represent Northern Ireland’s centenary. We must use this next decade to lay the foundations for Northern Ireland’s next one hundred years. The long-term stability and durability of Northern Ireland will depend on building the broadest possible support base for it.
We are the party to deal with the challenges that lie ahead. We are the party of Northern Ireland. The DUP is committed to:
- Strengthen the Union
- Make devolution work
- Work together with other parties for a better Northern Ireland- make Northern Ireland an economic success
- Build a shared and united community
A NORTHERN IRELAND AT PEACE WITH ITSELF
The DUP will continue working to break down the barriers which still exist in Northern Ireland between the Province’s two historical main traditions. We will also ensure that those from minority ethnic communities are an integral part of building a new Northern Ireland. We consider the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration Strategy to be merely a starting point. The last Executive was able to draft a Good Relations Strategy and Programme where previous administrations had failed, and over the next four years the DUP wants to be at the forefront of implementing it.
Immense savings can be made across the public sector by greater integration and tackling historic divisions. We believe that savings resulting from greater sharing should be reinvested into early intervention measures for local communities.
The 2007 Deloitte report Research into the Financial Cost of the Northern Ireland Divide suggested that Northern Ireland could be spending up to an additional £1.5 billion per annum on its public services. While we believe this figure might be inflated and only realisable in the longer term, clawing back even a small fraction of that sum could have a massive impact on outcomes for young people. Facilities, services and goods including schools, GP surgeries, jobcentres, Housing Executive offices, community centres, leisure centres and even bus stops are duplicated to accommodate separation.
It is normal and appropriate for all children to go together to a local primary school as they do to preschool. The opportunity to be educated together can play an essential part of a reconciliation process here. We support the concept of shared spaces, and will investigate the potential for PEDU to assist in rooting out costs from division. We want to maximise the savings available to invest in early intervention measures for communities.
DUP Ministers will also seek to reduce spending on division and duplication in areas such as:
- Separation in prisons
- Health facilities
- Expenditure on social housing
- Multiple offices for Government agencies in the same town
- Policing, security costs and civil disturbances
- Voluntary /community sector organisations.