UUP leader Tom Elliott launches NI Assembly manifesto

Media caption, Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott launches his party's manifesto at Linehall Library in Belfast

The Ulster Unionist Party will tackle the "huge disconnect between the general public and the assembly," party leader Tom Elliott has said.

Launching the UUP's assembly election manifesto, Mr Elliott said its central theme was addressing people's needs and expectations of Stormont.

He said cooperation between parties could not be built if there is a "carve-up at the heart of government".

"You cannot cure a divided society if the executive itself is divided."

Mr Elliott said the UUP's manifesto "addressed the difficulties posed by the lack of common ownership of the Programme for Government and the lack of genuine, credible cooperation at the heart of the executive".

"We have made some thoughtful, reasonable proposals about agreeing the contents of the Programme for Government and tying all of the parties into it," he added.

"We have suggested setting up an all-party, ongoing committee to discuss and get agreement further down the line on some more difficult issues.

"We have set out a simple and short timetable under which agreement can be reached.

"We have made the case for an officially recognised opposition, which will increase accountability, offer alternative opinions and allow real choice at elections."

Proposals in the Ulster Unionist manifesto include:

  • Ensuring the Programme for Government reflects the views of all of the parties in the executive and binds them to joint delivery and collective responsibility;
  • Building internal structures in which an opposition can challenge, hold to account, offer alternatives and provide choice at elections;
  • Focusing on building and promoting an post-conflict Northern Ireland;
  • Ensuring proper funding for social services and health; provision based on need, not ability to pay;
  • Maximising opportunity of turning Northern Ireland into an enterprise zone; long-term strategy to rebalance the economy and boost the private sector;
  • Finding long-term resolution of the post primary transfer process;
  • Reforming the government structures; significantly reducing the number of MLAs, executive departments, local councils and unelected bodies.

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