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Budget 2016-17

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:15 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood Social Democratic and Labour Party 4:15 pm, 19th January 2016

No thank you. They will accuse us of negativity. They are not great at taking criticism; they get very annoyed. Despite their shouts of negativity, it is, in fact, they who have invested most in the currency of cynicism. They are cynical about what politics in this place can actually achieve. They believe that Stormont only has to exist, nothing more. Theirs is the ideology of keeping the show on the road, nothing more. They believe that that will be enough for the electorate. It is as crude a calculation as this Budget.

We do not think that people will be fooled. In the SDLP, we believe in more. There is £1·7 billion: £1 billion in the RRI, £600 million in the HS2 consequential and £100 million in the Northern Ireland investment fund that could be used to prioritise and to achieve more. We believe that the politics of this place can reach for more. We believe we can have different priorities — different priorities that invest in people and in the future. We believe that the North can do better than this. We believe that this place has to do better than this. That is the choice in May. That is the alternative on offer.