This letter appeared in the Irish News on Friday April 19 2013.
IF SOMEONE were to ask me, on the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) what was the biggest difference it had made to my life then I would say, ” the biggest difference the GFA has made to my life is having to remember every day to take my own plastic bags to the shops”.
History may well prove this to be the most memorable and significant piece of legislation to emanate from the Storming assembly, or, as I would prefer to name it, – ‘ the plastic bag parliament ‘. Fifteen years down the line from the GFA one only has to read that 34 per cent of the North of Ireland‘s population is economically inactive – for heaven’s sake that is more than one-third of the working age population andiI is the highest rate in the UK.
Child poverty levels are higher than anywhere else in the UK. Twice as many people are in receipt of Disability Allowance as anywhere else. And what can the Storming assembly do about any of this.? The First and Deputy First Ministers, in a desperate effort to do something about the dire state of economic affairs, headed off to Downing Street to try to get a change in the rate of corporation tax only to return, humiliated, with their tails between their legs.
Meanwhile, the gathered wisdom of the rest of the MLAs at Stormont is that something can be done to stop the so-called social security ‘bedroom tax‘ being introduced here. I can’t see that happening either.
The Storming assembly hasn’t got the power to economically benefit from the exploitation of the country’s own natural resources. In effect it doesn’t even have the power to punch its way out of a paper bag, never mind a plastic bag.
With many thanks to : Anna Leech,Glenariffe, Co An trim.
- Plastic bags now banned too in Malabon City (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Plastic Bag Tax Charge Starts Today (belfastdaily.co.uk)
- Charge for plastic bags introduced in Northern Ireland (itv.com)