New Year message from the Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

In his New Year message, Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Steve Aiken OBE MLA, said:

"2020 has been a hugely challenging year, not only for Northern Ireland, but also right across the world. As we look towards 2021 we reflect on the pain and misery caused by a worldwide pandemic, but also look forward with a renewed sense of hope. With the roll-out of a number of vaccines across the United Kingdom, we look forward to brighter days in 2021 when people can see light at the end of the tunnel and society can hopefully return to some form of normality.

"It has also been an opportunity to re-assess our priorities and 2020 has reinforced the importance of the National Health Service. We owe all its staff, the doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, administrators and social care workers an enormous debt of gratitude. We also thank the army of people who worked right through ensuring that society could continue to function, from those in the agri-food industry, the airports and transport services, right through to those working in essential shops.

"We must also never forget the role played by all our emergency services and soldiers, sailors and airmen who played a crucial role in helping deal with the greatest public health emergency in decades. This year has also reminded us of the importance of education and the vital role that our teachers play in shaping the lives of our children. We thank them all.

"As a society we should be seeking to mend relationships and put seismic political events behind us and concentrate on working together to make Northern Ireland work for all its people.

“2021 brings in the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland. It provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the past 100 years and remember all that we have achieved as a small, but vital part of our United Kingdom.   

"Northern Ireland`s people have made huge contributions to industry, science and medicine as well as to the worlds of sport, music and culture.  As well as those successes we must remember the pain our people have suffered at the hands of sectarian violence, terrorist campaigns and under bombardment from fascism during the Second World War.

"2021 should not just be about reflection.  It provides an opportunity to look forward and set out a vision for the next 100 years. I want us to face the future with confidence and build a vision of how we can make Northern Ireland a world leader as a place to live and work.   

“I want us to set out how we can invest in our greatest asset – our people; how we can achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2035; how we build new industries and grow existing ones; how we use our geography to gain new market advantages.

“I want Northern Ireland back to being a powerhouse in innovation, just as we were at the turn of the last century.

“We must dream and build big.

“The Northern Ireland I want to bring into its second century is a vibrant, innovative, inclusive place – part of a modern and outward looking United Kingdom.”

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