A proposed policy framework for the new Stormont Executive has been published, with the public being urged to help shape the power-sharing administration’s final programme for government.
The 114-page document is structured around 14 generalised “outcomes”, with 42 proposed indicators to measure progress towards them.
Among the outcomes are pledges to create a more equal society; to develop a stronger, more balanced economy; to enjoy long and healthy lives, to foster a safe community and respect for the law; to deliver high quality public service; and to encourage respect for diversity.
The approach has been criticised by rivals of the Democratic Unionist/Sinn Fein administration who have branded it nothing more than an “apple pie” list of vague aspirations.
But the main parties insist that setting a general framework, and then conducting a public consultation to help shape the ultimate policies, is a more “thoughtful” way of governing - one that would ensure the maximum degree of community buy-in.
Publishing the document on Friday, DUP First Minister Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness urged civic society to engage in the process and feed back views.
The ministers have said the approach, which is being used for the first time in Northern Ireland, has previously worked to great effect in Scotland.
The leaders intend to set specific policies and definite targets when the public consultation exercise concludes at the end of July to enable an alignment with December’s budget.