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Cost of division needs to be tackled, says Muir

If we are serious about protecting public services, then the cost of division in our society needs to be dealt with, Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has said.

The Alliance Finance spokesperson was speaking following an Assembly debate on the Budget. The North Down MLA said the duplication of services in our society was one of the main drains on our finances.

“The New Decade New Approach deal has laid out a number of oversight mechanisms but unless the Assembly, Executive and Ministers are prepared to deal with difficult decisions, we will remain in this situation. But the luxury of dodging difficult decisions is now firmly gone,” said Mr Muir.

“The biggest money-waster we have faced in Northern Ireland remains the cost of division. It has been estimated to be around £800 million and is the most significant financial challenge facing the Executive.

“The costs of division are many but include the provision of duplicate goods, facilities and services for separate sections of the community, policing of disturbances, pressures on the housing sector and lost opportunities in investment and tourism.

“I welcome the Finance Minister recently stating he expects the Executive will develop policies which will help eliminate the costs of delivering public services in a divided society. However, more needs done – a programme of ambitious actions such as a single teacher training college and ending the segregated education system would bring resulting savings.

“It is vital we take the decisions which will not only help end age-old sectarian divisions but transform lives, attract investment and see money spent on need.”