North Antrim DUP Assembly candidate Mervyn Storey has outlined key campaign issues for the forthcoming Assembly Election.
Speaking after attending the official launch of the DUP campaign Mervyn Storey said: “The forthcoming Assembly election represents the first election in what is a new political era for Northern Ireland. While there are still some who in different ways and for different reasons would wish to drag the Province backwards the focus for the vast majority of people is to look forwards.
“For me and my DUP colleagues this election campaign is not just about the next election; it is about the next generation.
“The Northern Ireland Assembly has just completed the first full term of devolved government for over 40 years. That is something that many people thought unimaginable. It has not been easy and it is far from perfect – but step by step we are beginning to build a new Northern Ireland.
“During this term the Assembly has:
* provided free travel on public transport to everyone over 60 – the most generous scheme in the whole of the UK.
* frozen the Regional Rate in cash terms for three years helping 750,000 households.
* deferred Water Charges for the entire Assembly term – giving Northern Ireland by far the lowest household taxes in the entire United Kingdom and only half the average bills in Great Britain.
* given a 20% discount on their rates to every single person over 70 living alone. introduced a Small Business Rate relief scheme providing £8 million help to 16,000 small businesses – and we plan to do more.
* capped manufacturing rates at 30% - helping 4,000 businesses and protecting thousands of jobs.
* frozen non-domestic Regional Rates over the last three years in real terms.
* introduced free prescriptions for everyone in Northern Ireland - that’s not available in England.
“In this period Invest Northern Ireland secured more than £3 billion of investment commitments and £1/2 billion in annual salaries; Over 31,000 new jobs have been created by Government through Invest NI. Capital investment in our vital infrastructure was £1.5 billion last year. This compares to just £700 million under Direct Rule. Again that’s the highest infrastructure investment ever in Northern Ireland.
“Northern Ireland has come a long way since the DUP emerged as the largest party. Back then, the Assembly had been suspended four times before it finally collapsed, the IRA was still armed and active and Sinn Fein refused to support the police. But the DUP changed that!
“This campaign will allow politicians to engage with the public on the best way top keep Northern Ireland moving forward in coming years. For the DUP this is about more jobs, low rates, education, tougher sentences for crime, reforming and improving our healthcare and strengthening unionism.
“For others this election is about survival or personal grudges. For the DUP it is about building upon what has already been achieved and working for future generations.”