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Talks deal must deliver hope, not disappointment

Wednesday 18-11-2015 - 14:58
Fergal mcferran

NUS-USI President Fergal McFerran has said that the Northern Ireland party talks deal published yesterday must provide the space for political stability to make progress for those in society who most desperately need it.

President of NUS-USI Fergal McFerran said: “Whilst I welcome the fact that an agreement was reached yesterday, I too must air caution. As the title of the agreement hints, Northern Ireland is in desperate need of a fresh start, but I am hesitate to accept that what was published yesterday is the best we can hope for.

“I welcome the fact that we now have some space to deliver political stability and I too recognise the language used by the First and Deputy First Ministers when they pledged to lead by example in co-operation and common purpose. Yesterday, those involved in forging the agreement recognised the growing sense of dissatisfaction and disillusionment that many within society in Northern Ireland feel in relation to our political system. This is why actions, not words are what we desperately now need.

It is absolutely vital that this deal creates an opportunity to deliver stable government and make progress on tackling societal division. This deal must create hope, not disappointment. We need government that works for all and builds for the future. Progress on addressing division is crucial to cement stability and build a collective future together for everyone here.

“I cannot, however, hide my concerns that this deal is not as comprehensive as some people might have hoped. It is essential that progress on addressing the legacy of our past can be delivered as it is vital to building a shared future.

“This agreement must put the building blocks in place to create a better future for everyone. Tertiary education is a key foundation stone of creating a fairer and more equal society and so I am confused, if not somewhat disappointed by the fact that the devolution and reduction of corporation tax has been dubbed a headline success of this deal at the same time as what can only be described as the budgetary decimation of our Universities and Further Education Colleges. There is a fundamental flaw in logic here.

“Students across Northern Ireland are extremely worried about the impact of cuts to further and higher education funding. Government here must listen and act to address their fears.

“It is imperative that this political deal works for all, and delivers stability, opportunity and hope for the future. Northern Ireland needs a shared future and needs investment in our greatest resource, our people.

“The student movement in Northern Ireland is prepared, as we always have been, to play our role in supporting our politicians to deliver effective government. We stand alongside others from across civil society to encourage our political parties to be ambitious for the future. Yesterday’s deal falls short in places, but at least it is a starting point from which we can all work.”

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