I have to say SDLP Minister Alex Attwood has gone up in my estimation recently.
First there was his leadership taken to investigate mechanisms to curb alcohol abuse. Clearly he is promoting something he believes to be in society’s interest whilst recognising it is not a populist measure in the face of an election.
Then last night at the closing Reception of the Belfast One City Conference at the US Consul General’s Residence, Alex was gracious and selfless and open to good ideas wherever they emanate from.
People will be aware, for some time, I have been Championing the claim of the Lisburn Road to become Northern Ireland’s Pilot Business Improvement District. The logic being the traders already put their own hands in their own pockets to fund innovative initiatives to promote business.
In his remarks at last night’s reception the Minister said he had been speaking to me and was minded to consider implementing my suggestion and would be working with me and Tom Ekin of the Alliance Party and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir of Sinn Fein who have been equally involved with and supportive of the initiative since we visited New York’s Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District last year.
Well done Minister.
The other striking remarks of yesterday came from New York Commissioner Rob Walsh, when, referring to [Northern Ireland’s fixation with] Consultation Processes he said "sure try and build consensus, but don’t take month’s, its urgent."
The business leaders of South Belfast and Northern Ireland couldn’t agree more. Let’s get on with it!