Arlene & Martin pen their first joint platform piece

In their first platform piece for the newspapers, Arlene Foster & Martin McGuinness have penned their first platform piece on the Executive here. Some key passages I have highlighted but this looks like the continuation of two real alternatives in the government of Northern Ireland.

DAY by day, slowly but surely, politics here is changing. And it’s for the better.

The focus is increasingly now on policies and delivery – on finding the best ways to make people’s lives better.

The seeds of this change can be found in the Fresh Start Agreement a year ago and the Assembly election some six months later.

Our two parties – along with Claire Sugden as Justice Minister – are now in an Executive facing in the same direction.

We made promises to voters that we will keep – taking on the heavy responsibilities that come with elected office, governing in their best interests, tackling head-on the tough decisions.

Others decided to duck the challenges and retreat to the Opposition benches. That is a matter for them.

We are getting on with the work. It’s not always easy or straightforward.

Our public spending allocation from London has been reduced so we won’t have the funding to do everything we want. There will undoubtedly be some difficult choices ahead.

Coalition government is a challenge in itself.

It’s hardly a secret that our two parties come from very different places and have very different ideologies.

However, that should not and will not stop us working together on day-to-day bread and butter issues.

Brexit is a case in point. Our parties have opposing standpoints on this important issue.

That hasn’t prevented us agreeing a practical way forward as Executive ministers – identifying the key priorities as the negotiations unfold.

Our parties will continue to stand up for their core beliefs where necessary – in private and public.

This does not mean filling the airwaves with endless squabbles, making the Assembly a by-word for division.

It’s vital for the peace process that politics can move on.

It’s also essential for the people we represent.

We firmly believe that a devolved Executive, with Ministers working together effectively and collectively, is in the public interest.

Imagine if we had followed the example of others and decided the challenges of Government were just too daunting.

That would have opened the door to years of direct rule – Conservative Ministers ruling over us without a mandate.

Rest assured this Executive is not going to abandon you to that.

We are in this for the long haul.

There is much more to do, but we are proud of the achievements to date.

Despite the pressure on budgets, we have found extra money to invest in key frontline services.

The full Executive has thrown its weight behind radical reforms to transform health and social care, designed to make it truly world class.

This 10-year vision will finally tackle the underlying causes of the problems plaguing our health service – like waiting lists, staff shortages and GP pressures.

Since May, the Executive has also agreed to block the introduction of household water charges for another five years. Direct rule Ministers, it should be remembered, were poised to impose these charges as long ago as 2007.

No effort is being spared to grow our economy and create new and better jobs.

Our inward investment achievements are already the envy of other regions and there are now plans to expand Invest Northern Ireland’s locations around the world.

We are also building on our action plan to tackle paramilitarism, working alongside law enforcement agencies to end this scourge.

In another significant achievement, we have put in place a £500m welfare reform mitigation package to protect vulnerable people.

Based on the advice of renowned social security expert Professor Eileen Evason, this package will shield households from measures like the bedroom tax.

The Executive has also issued an ambitious Programme for Government – with the focus firmly on outcomes that make a real difference.

The public consultation – now in its second phase – has produced a record response, with respondents overwhelmingly positive on the new approach we are taking.

We are also pushing ahead with major infrastructure projects, not least for our roads network.

Delivery can be seen too in smaller scale announcements across all walks of life – with funding released for local sports, welfare advice, farm improvement schemes, town centre improvements, libraries, coastal communities, and an innovative new stimulus package.

We know only too well these are fast-moving, uncertain and sometimes troubling times around the world.

But there is much to be positive about at home.

Unemployment has been falling steadily. Tourism spending has been on the increase.

And there are major investment opportunities to be pursued.

That’s why we will shortly travel to China to meet political leaders, forge new relationships and promote our economy and tourism.

This is what delivery looks like.

No gimmicks. No grandstanding. Just Ministers getting on with the work.

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  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    “We made promises to voters that we will keep…”

    Such as Arlene telling voters, “It’s either me or Martin McGuinness…” when in actual fact, it’s both.

  • Declan Doyle

    Glib but true

  • Nevin

    TEO is indeed a shared office but Arlene was obviously fishing in all of the unionist pools as well as sending out a message in relation the strength of the DUP/UUP vote in comparison to the SF/SDLP one.

    “108 MLAs will be elected but in reality the next First Minister will either be me or Martin McGuinness. Your vote will decide. It’s that simple,” she said. .. “It is a choice between his vision of taking this province out of the United Kingdom and my vision to strengthen the Union.”

    The DUP got 38 seats compared with SF’s 28 and the DUP/UUP held their number of seats whilst SF/SDLP dropped 3.

  • Granni Trixie

    Looks like their strategy in response to current criticisms is to try to deflect from a focus on a lack of proper process and procedures by highlighting policy and delivery.

    I’m sure we can expect more press statements from Marlene promoting the theme “Alls well that ends well” …but that doesn’t answer the question : WHO benefits from the delivery of policy, given that the process for selecting groups to benefit determines the outcome.

    It’s a nice try but depressing. I would rather that they put their hands up and went back to the drawing board.

  • file

    I do not remember having a say about giving more legitimacy to the regime in China. How come this was not put out to public consultation, like everything else is?
    In case you miss the sarcasm, I am against this seemingly obligatory public consultation for every policy – we elected you, now get on and do it without asking the public every time you want to tie your shoelaces.
    But I mean, China? With its human rights record? Really, Martin? What next, Saudi Arabia?

  • Declan Doyle

    Two of which went to the anti partition PBP and one to the centre so, all is as is. For now.

  • Declan Doyle

    Both Martin and Arly are of a generation where they both remember and experienced the pain associated pre confict and during. Whatever one’s view on their aptitude or ideology; the fact they can stand together shows just how far we have come in Ireland. Good job.

  • ted hagan

    Thanks a million Arlene and Marty …. for doing what you’re paid to be doing.
    What do you want, gratitude? But haven’t you forgotten something? What about a wee Christmas bonus for paramilitary, er, sorry, I mean community, leaders for all their hard work over the years?

  • Granni Trixie

    How can you say ‘good job’ when on there is so much done in self interest and a lack of transparency in decision making especially as regards disseminating money to groups? Or are you in denial too?

  • Declan Doyle

    Unlike yourself i dont intend to revert to old style DUP cribbing from the sidelines and opportunistic cat calls. where they fall down they should be called out on it, where they stand tall and succeed give them credit.simple enough.

  • EdmundBurke

    What a load of waffle and disingenuity by the DUP-SF push-me-pull-you pantomime horse! Fresh Start quickly dropped to Stale Start and the proposed Opposition “powers” are weak and Petitions of Concern were used by Foster or threatened by her when it suited and not for the purpose intended. Here is my US angle on this power-carving-up and cynical patronage machine for both tribal parties which ran in Saturday’s Belfast Telegaph:

  • Nevin

    “Arlene & Martin pen their first joint platform piece”

    I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Might it not have been composed by their new super spin doctor?

  • John Collins

    I think, in SFs case they actually like the English. I however feel they despite other Britons.

  • Declan Doyle

    I am an English Shinner. Now, square that circle if u can.

  • billypilgrim1

    If you don’t submit to our rule, it can only mean you have an irrational hatred of us….

    Grow up.

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘Declan Doyle’ is a pseudonym?