Northern Ireland

Reaction to NI government plans

Politicians, trade unionists and business people give their reaction to the executive's plans for a new programme for government.

BRIAN CAMPFIELD, NIPSA GENERAL SECRETARY

"I think it is a positive message. But it is important to put the programme for government in perspective.

"We are part of the UK economy. The first ministers and finance ministers of the three devolved administrations in October 2010 stated that the UK government's spending plans were going to cause significant economic and social harm to Northern Ireland. There has not been any change at all to that spending plan.

"We are in the middle of a global economic crisis. The impact of the programme for government on issues like unemployment, public services and a range of other issues is going to be marginal.

"The executive should be using creative approaches to try and protect and develop and create employment. I think we need to put the thing in perspective, the executive alone is not going to solve NI's economic problems."

JOANNE STUART, BUSINESS-WOMAN

"We know that small businesses are having great difficulties in accessing finance. The liquidity fund is something that is going to help small businesses survive and grow.

"The thing for us is actually having the economic strategy there, having a plan for growth that is focussed on rebuilding and rebalancing our economy, but also very much on job creation.

"It will be interesting to see what the ideas are around job creation, especially for youth unemployment. As we saw yesterday, it is continuing to increase.

"The programme helps to give confidence to business and to wider society that we have a government that is working together to secure our future."

MARK ENNIS, NEWLY APPOINTED INVEST NI CHAIRMAN

"I don't take up my office until 1 January and from what I have heard on the news, I have significant challenges to create 21,000 jobs in four years. It is a headline - we have to see what is behind that.

"To create 21,000 jobs we will not only have to support growth businesses and attract more foreign investment but we are going to have to broaden the remit of Invest NI a little bit in terms of being able to support those businesses that are not necessarily growth businesses, just to maintain levels of employment. That is going to be a challenge.

"Invest NI has done a very good job of bringing in businesses which have replaced jobs lost in other businesses. We have also been focussing very much across a broader remit of those businesses and boosting business - boosting jobs, improving exports, investing in research and development, promoting efficiency and new skills; all of that will add up to increased employment."

SIOBHAN FITZPATRICK, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, EARLY YEARS

"We are delighted with the announcement of a free nursery place for all of Northern Ireland's children as part of the Programme for Government. While we await the detail of the announcement we are pleased that parents will now hopefully be able to see their children begin their pre-school education in the setting of their choice, ensuring that their early years are spent getting the right start in life.

"We look forward to working through the detail with the Department of Education and from there, building on this major development towards the full implementation of a comprehensive 0 - 6 strategy.

"We are particularly delighted that the 600 children whose parents had to pay for their place this year will now have a funded place. Minister O'Dowd and the executive are to be congratulated for making the interests of young children and parents a high priority for the Programme for Government."