Leonard calls for all-party economic forum

Alliance Party General Secretary, Allan Leonard, has called on the Secretary of State to lead the way on establishing an all-party economic forum. His call comes as the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, announced his commitment to the local economy.

Mr Leonard, an Alliance Party representative of South Belfast, was present at the talks with the British and Irish Government ministers when the Alliance Party presented its idea for an economic roundtable.

Mr Leonard stated: “My colleagues and I emphasised the importance of having all the political parties address the serious economic issues we face. I particularly pointed out the value of East-West economic links, as well as the North-South ones. Mr Hain has since replied with a public statement of how Northern Ireland’s economy could enjoy the best of both worlds, which I welcome.

“However, the Secretary of State must now follow up his fine words with actions.

“I recognize that the Government is putting around £100 million into economic development and a youth and training level. The Alliance Party is more interested in the practicality of outcomes than the theory of inputs.

“We recognize that throwing money at a problem rarely solves it. What is required by the hundreds of people who have lost jobs in local industry in the past two weeks, and by their dependents, is clear political leadership.

“As a party, we are challenging other parties to show they can deliver leadership in the context of an all-party economic forum. If they cannot deliver real results for the people who need them and for society as a whole, then all their preaching about political mandates is meaningless.”

ENDS

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