Election 2015 Northern Ireland

Election 2015: Tax cuts top Ulster Unionist manifesto

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Media captionLeader Mike Nesbitt outlined the parties policies at the launch in Portadown

The Ulster Unionist Party has said tax reductions and extra money for mental health will be part of its price for joining any coalition government.

The party will seek VAT rate cuts for property repairs and the hospitality industry.

However, it insisted there would be no "begging bowl" approach to negotiations during a hung parliament.

Leader Mike Nesbitt said he would be prepared to work with the Conservatives or Labour.

However, he ruled out supporting the SNP if it was intent on another independence referendum in Scotland.

Key priorities

UUP

Main pledges

  • Northern Ireland deserves better: UUP will lead transformation as it did in talks that led to 1998 Good Friday Agreement
  • Education system where children mix from age four, getting "virtual inoculation" against sectarianism
  • Health service needs fixing, UUP warned years ago about looming NHS crisis in Northern Ireland
  • UUP wants people to feel healthier, happier and be more prosperous

Reducing economic dependence on the rest of the UK through a drop in corporation tax and generating greater wealth while balancing the budget at Stormont's devolved assembly were among other priorities outlined.

Mr Nesbitt said he wanted to concentrate on winning seats before deciding his position on a Westminster coalition.

He added: "We will do our best for the people of Northern Ireland, but our values are not an auction item.

"We will not take short-term advantage if it means long-term damage to the Union and to our children, and grandchildren and future generations.

"So, no begging bowl approach from us, come May 8."

He refused to speculate on whether Labour or the Conservatives would be preferable partners and said the best solution for stability was a clear majority.

Image caption The manifesto includes proposals to cut VAT

He added: "I cannot see circumstances in which we would want to be associated with the SNP because we have had a referendum on independence, the people of Scotland have voted to stay in the UK and it is clear the SNP don't accept that vote.

"I imagine that might be an insurmountable obstacle to doing business with the SNP."

Mr Nesbitt said the Troubles legacy still lingered for victims and support was needed from Westminster to tackle that.

Other policies:

  • Cutting VAT rate on hospitality industry to 9% in line with the Republic of Ireland.
  • A 5% concessionary rate on property repairs
  • Ulster Unionists also want any company benefiting from a lower rate of Corporation Tax (12.5%) to pay the living wage
  • Proposal for a "pupil premium" to help schoolchildren in deprived communities.