we must stand together to beat the criminal bully boys

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It is Saturday morning in Belfast and, after a day of bomb alerts yesterday, we hear from the BBC about another two shootings of young men in our country.

Men injured in shootings in Belfast and Sion Mills

A 22-year old man has been shot in the ankle in a so-called punishment style shooting in north Belfast.

It happened at Saunderson Court, close to the Oldpark Road on Friday night. His injuries are not life-threatening.

In a separate incident, a 20-year-old man has been shot in the leg in County Tyrone.

It happened in a playing field in the Glebe area of Sion Mills at about 2315 BST on Friday. The man’s injuries are not life-threatening.

from BBC News Northern Ireland

All too often we hear about paramilitary style shootings here in Northern Ireland. Local politicians may be in charge up at Stormont in the Assembly, but on the ground it seems that local people are still being terrorised by criminal gangs. We also have had many bomb alerts in or near Belfast in recent days. The people of Northern Ireland are fed up by these attacks on our peace and democracy.

There must be people in our communities who know who is responsible for these attacks. I call on them to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland as soon as possible, so that the Criminal Justice system can be used to put these criminals, thugs, and bully boys behind bars. Let’s hope that the Prison Service and Probation Service will be able to work together with other agencies to reform the criminals in our midst.

You can contact the PSNI onĀ 0845 600 8000 or if it is an emergency by dialling 999.

Nick Clegg calls for diversity for NI economy

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Nick Clegg

picture courtesy of Liberal Democrats' Flickr account

 

Yesterday the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg was in Northern Ireland.

He was meeting with the First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle. The major concern for Northern Irish Ministers was the proposed spending cuts that are to come in across the UK to deal with the budget deficit. Nick Clegg stated the long-term aims of the Government for a prosperous Northern Ireland were:

“Over time we clearly need to try and create a NI economy which is more diverse in which you have more people employed in the private sector.

“That’s not something you can just wave a magic wand and do overnight.

“We’re very aware of that and we’re also aware that these are exactly the kind of things we need to consider when we make these decisions about how to deal with the deficit.”

Earlier Peter Robinson had joined calls with his fellow First Minister’s Alex Salmond in Scotland and Carwyn Jones in Wales against public sector spending cuts. What makes Robinson’s signing of this join declaration slightly weird is that he had earlier suggested some sweeping changes, which would result in public sector savings himself.

In his proposals he is planning to cut the number of departments at Stormont from 12 to 8, stating that “12 departments for a population of 1.7 million is far too much.” He also proposed cutting the number of MLAs from 128 to 75. This reflects not only the reduction of constituencies under the Governments voting reform legislation from 18 to 15 but also the number of MLAs per seat from 6 to 5.

All of these proposals from Robinson actually show the sort of prudence that the Liberal Democrats were campaigning for during the general election. It is not the key services that need to be, nor should be, cut but looking at the edges, looking at the waste, looking at the over governance and manning that our monolithic civil service and public sector have become.

One question I would repeat to Alex Salmond and add in Carwyn Jones is are you absolutely sure there is no waste in the public sector under your budgets? Is it not possible that some pruning would not lead to leaner, more fit-for-purpose public sector?

Before anybody says that all cuts are wrong, they should look like the Ministers in Westminster are doing at what is absolutely necessary and what is just a vanity.