N. Ireland Politics

SDLP manifesto says top priority is job creation

Job creation must be the priority of the next assembly, the SDLP has said.

Launching its manifesto, the party rejected the "failed budget" and said it would rewrite it in the first 100 days of the new administration.

Among its priorities are creating an economy department, reforming the public sector, encouraging greater inward investment and taking powers to vary tax.

The party says up to 16,000 jobs could be created in three years.

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said it was important to "unite people and build prosperity".

"If we work on uniting people we can build a shared society that is peaceful, healthy and at ease with itself in one community which embraces different traditions," she said.

"We must never lose sight of that prize.

"If we work to build prosperity we can develop a modern dynamic economy that provides employment and opportunity for all.

"We will have to invest heavily in the education and training of young people and we will have to follow a bold economic strategy in the short medium and long term. But again the prize is great, and reachable."

Other pledges in the SDLP manifesto include:

  • Cutting the number of assembly members from 108 to 96 by the time of the next election, with a further reduction negotiable after 2015;
  • Reducing the number of departments and ministers, with a matching number of assembly committees;
  • Reforming the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister to reduce its functions and change the titles to joint first minister;
  • Opposing any increase in university tuition fees;
  • Properly finance the Green New Deal to create 7,000 jobs;
  • Investing in the agri-food sector to create 3,300 direct and supplier jobs;
  • Doubling tourism revenue to create 2,200 jobs;
  • Ensuring the continued growth of the information and communications technology sector with 2,000 extra posts;
  • Diverting capital spend towards building projects which are ready to proceed, including social housing, creating 1,500 jobs.