In this article written for the Derry Journal Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson explains her reasons why she voted for the Programme for Government
In contact with constituents over the weeks since the publication of the Programme for Government (PfG) I have been asked why some of our local politicians felt they could not support it. My initial response was that I could not identify any practical reason for opposition and therefore could only put it down to political posturing.
By way of answering the question - Why did I support it? - I would like to lay out some of the main aims and goals included in the PfG so that you can judge its content for yourselves.
The PfG sets out a course of action to correct the economic imbalance caused by the collapse of the Banking, Construction and services sectors.
This will entail a target of £1billion of investment encompassing £375million Foreign Direct Investment, £400million from indigenous businesses supported by Invest NI and a £225million injection in the Jobs Fund. This will contribute to increased employment by promoting over 25,000 new jobs. As part of this programme we will also support young people into employment by providing skills and training. We will also continue to reform and modernise the delivery of Health and Social Care.
On the Tourism front - one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy - we are committed to increasing visitor numbers to 4.2 million with tourist revenue of £676million by 2014.
The content of the PfG was only finalised following a public consultation process and taking account of over 400 consultation responses. Drawing from these responses we acted to address more effectively, the needs of victims, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and deliver a range of measures to tackle poverty and social exclusion through the Delivering Social Change framework.
Other areas covered by the PfG include facilitating a 20% increased Executive target for drawdown of competitive EU Funds and to develop and implement a strategy to reduce economic inactivity through skills, training, incentives and job creation.
By the end of 2014/15 we will implement new structures to support the improved delivery of housing services to the people of the North.
In Education we intend to ensure that all children have the opportunity to participate in shared education programmes by 2015 and substantially increase the number of schools sharing facilities by the same date. We are committed to increase the overall proportion of young people who achieve at least 5 GCSE’s at A* - C or equivalent including in Maths and English by the time they leave school.
I am also encouraged and welcome the positive attitude of my Executive Colleagues in their support for Derry’s ‘One Plan’. This is a pivotal project for the regeneration of Derry and although not included in the first DRAFT PfG drawn up by Civil Servants, deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness and myself in the best interests of our City lobbied and gained support from our Executive colleagues to ensure that it was included in the final PfG .
The main principles and objectives of the ‘One Plan’ were adopted and where appropriate and subject to appraisal, statutory processes and availability of resources, agreed to attempt to fit them in with current and future expenditure plans and priorities. We also agreed to provide the necessary support to Ilex to more effectively access appropriate EU and private sector funding streams.
These are only some of the positive actions we intend to take in our determination to provide a better society for all during this mandate.
Now I ask you, is there anything here that could justify the SDLP voting against the Programme for Government?