On Friday 2 March 2012, Peter Weir, North Down Borough Councillor and MLA, visited the Politics Society. He spoke about the importance of both ideology and deliver in politics. He said that in terms of moving politics forward in Northern Ireland there needs to be a level playing field. He spoke of the three levels of politics, the first level being resolving the grievances of individual constituents and how there has to be a degree of judgement on how to help. The second level is the constituency as a whole, citing the closure of Redburn Primary School in Holywood as a major concern in his constituency. The third level is Assembly level, and the last 5 years of stable governance. Mr Weir said that Northern Ireland needs to look to future at the same time as repairing the past.
Mr Weir said that the top priority in Northern Ireland at this moment is the economy, and that there needs to be a rebalancing of the economy. According to Mr Weir, their needs to be considerable focus on getting jobs in Northern Ireland. He also said that whilst we need to attract big business, we mustn’t neglect our small businesses, citing a £50 million loans fund as a way of helping small business. Mr Weir also cited the brain drain that Northern Ireland experiences, and the detrimental effect this has on the economy. He said that studying in Northern Ireland needs to be made more viable by putting in place protection for those choosing to study in Northern Ireland.
Cllr Weir said that health was another major issue in Northern Ireland, as Northern Ireland (along with the rest of the developed world) is facing an ageing population, and the strain this puts on our health service. Mr Weir said that there needs to be a restructuring of the health service in order to help or growing number of older people. He said that the health service needs to look at people’s lifestyles and try to avoid easily preventable illness from occurring. Mr Weir said that home care needs focus in order to prevent hospitalisation. He also said that in order for the resources to be spent effectively, there may be a need to close hospitals.
He closed his speech by saying that the practice of politics is the combination of ideas and action. If you have no ideas and are purely focused on action, Mr Weir said, you are a reactionary technocrat – a politician looking only at the short term without much use. At the other end of the scale, Mr Weir explained, if you are a purely ideological politician, you have a lot of philosophy but little positive action.
Peter Taggart 13F