Return of Stormont - Your Views
With the return of the Stormont Executive, we took to the streets of the city centre to ask the public for their views on the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly after three years.
The news of the £60m in funding for a dedicated medical school on the Magee campus has been broadly welcomed since it was announced last week, but concerns remain over whether major projects for the north west, some of which were mentioned in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ document, will be acted upon.
The wider expansion of Magee, and reforms in education and health still remain issues to be addressed by the new executive at Stormont following the announcement of pay parity for nurses and other health care workers, which has resulted in most of the affected workers deciding to end their industrial action
We asked what people made of their new government at Stormont, what issues meant most to them, and what they would like to see Stormont prioritise in the coming months.
Speaking about the restoration of Stormont as the Brexit date looms, local man Kevin Cullen (35) said: “In the context of Brexit it will be good for Northern Ireland. The best possible deal can be negotiated for Northern Ireland.
“Without that, it would be Westminster making all the decisions. They aren’t necessarily going to make the best decisions for Northern Ireland.”
Mr. Cullen said he would like to see “transport links from east to west prioritised”. “The west is completely cut off in terms of transport,” he added.
Local woman, Joanne Meehan (46) said that the return of power-sharing was “long-overdue”. “It’s been three years,” she said, adding: “It’s important that they are back talking again now.”
Turning to the issues of the day, she said: “In terms of the health service I’m glad now that the nurses are getting the pay rise, and others too. In education, everything needs to be brought up to par.”
Local man Paul Charnock (68) said Welfare Reform was also a big issue. He said: “I would like to see welfare prioritised in a way that’s fair to both sides of the equation.”
Ivan Chick from Somerset, England, described the deadlock in Stormont as ‘very silly’. The 71-year-old added that the health service and the nurses working within it needed to be properly funded.
William Hutchinson (65) from Belfast said: “They are starting to bicker already and they’re supposed to be working for all of us.”
He said that he too would like to see Stormont focus on health, and he added that the fact nurses here had not been receiving the same pay as across the water was “ridiculous”.