Business chief demands: 'Park your differences and sort mess out later'

Pamela McCreedy

A LEADING business body has demanded that political leaders in the north "deep freeze" their current differences, get back working for the good of the people of Northern Ireland - and effectively sort the mess out later.

Pamela McCreedy, chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society, told the body's annual dinner that there must be creative thinking in finding a way to address the democratic deficit at Stormont and to focus on issues which are affecting jobs, services and people's quality of life.

Addressing 300 guests she said: “My heartfelt appeal to all parties is to take a step back from the outstanding matters, agree a time-frame to revisit all that is left undone, and in the meantime get back to delivering on the key issues of health, education, jobs and the economy.

“It's not impossible or unreasonable to seek out a third way - namely a return to the Assembly to give Northern Ireland greater stability, with an agreed time to sort out the issues that are so far unresolved."

She added: “The Belfast Agreement showed that politics could work and that compromise is possible.

"Twenty years on, there is no question that we are in a better place than we were before the Agreement. We need to continue in that spirit of working together.

“It is now 14 months since our political institutions collapsed. They have been missed. Some issues between the parties have proved too difficult to resolve, but I believe that there are more things that unite us than divide us.

"The parties must agree that addressing the challenges in health, education and the economy will require political leadership in a functioning Executive and Assembly."

Ms McCreedy insisted that direct rule is no substitute for local political institutions making the decisions on health, education, jobs and our economy.

She said: "We have to have an end to the stalemate to provide greater stability and to address the significant challenges which affect services and the quality of life of people in Northern Ireland.

“The year ahead will without doubt be one of the most important years for our economy and our future. It's a year where we must get it right, one where we can set out who we are and what we have to offer to the rest of the world."

Guest speaker at the Ulster Society dinner in the Culloden Hotel was Ulster, Ireland and Lions rugby legend Willie John McBride.

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