Green vision for Northern Ireland’s future

The Green Party in Northern Ireland recently submitted our response to the consultation on the Executive’s draft Programme for Government (PfG) Framework. We welcomed the opportunity to share our vision for Northern Ireland’s future, however there are issues that we hope will be responded to in the final version, writes Green Party chair John Hardy.

Whilst the new outcomes-based approach has received a generally positive welcome, there is emerging evidence that using outcomes as a performance management system can be counterproductive, as the government chases targets rather than focussing on its core responsibility of improving people’s lives. It will be important going forward to ensure that this new approach is implemented properly so as to avoid these unintended consequences. We will do this by holding the Executive to account both in the Assembly and outside of it.

In our response, we raised concerns regarding the focus on economic growth that seems to run throughout this document. This is contrary to the stated aim of the outcomes-based approach, which seeks to improve overall societal welfare. The economy, whilst important, is only one element of this.

Another key area of improvement is the need for grassroots democracy to be enshrined within the PfG Framework. Opening the PfG process up to public consultation is only a start. We need to see participative democracy become a standard part of our governance, and including this as an outcome in the PfG Framework would be an important step towards this.

The focus on “shared”, rather than “integrated”, futures is concerning. We believe that this will further normalise and entrench division in our society, along with the costs associated with this division.

Finally, improvements need to be made to the environmental outcomes in the PfG. Simplistic measures such as greenhouse gas emissions, which ignore wider environmental problems, are given too much prominence. There is also too much focus on road travel, neglecting alternative modes of transport, such as public and active travel.

The Green Party looks forward to working constructively with the Executive over the coming five years to ensure that these messages are taken on board and our vision is realised.

Tuesday 26 July 2016

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