Northern Ireland

NI Executive: New draft programme for government published

The new Northern Ireland Executive ministers
Image caption The executive met for the first time on Thursday

The Northern Ireland Executive has laid out its priorities for the next five years which includes a major focus on the economy.

The details have been published in a draft framework for the programme for government.

The framework includes 42 "indicators" of which about a third relate to the economy.

There is also an emphasis on improving outcomes in health and education.

Specific targets have not been set at this stage but will follow in the final programme for government following a consultation period.

It will be brought before the Northern Ireland Assembly when it is finalised later this year.

Image caption All of the executive ministers have now been announced

The new ministers met for the first time on Thursday and announced they had agreed the new document.

First Minister Arlene Foster said it represented "a completely new way of doing politics in Northern Ireland".

The draft programme for government includes economic indicators such as increasing the proportion of people in work, increasing competitiveness and improving skills.

These will largely be measured by using existing statistics but some new measurements will have to be developed.

'Generational'

This will include a Good Jobs index to measure the proportion of people working in "good jobs".

There is also an intention to develop a "Respect Index" to measure "respect for each other".

The executive has described the framework as "generational in nature" meaning some of the desired outcomes cannot be delivered in one term.

As an example, it states change relating to healthy life expectancy is only possible over "a long period of time".

'No commitments'

The framework will now go out to public consultation until 22 July.

Following that detailed action plans will be developed and a final Programme for Government will be published alongside a budget by the end of 2016.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said the DUP and Sinn Féin had "already failed to deliver on their first big promise from the Fresh Start Agreement".

He added that the draft programme was a case of "déjà vu all over again".

Colum Eastwood, the SDLP leader was also critical of the document.

"There are many words but no commitments," he said.

"The fact they managed to spread it over 100 pages may be this document's only impressive feature," he said.

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