29/09/2010

Hearing Loss 'Assumptions' Slammed

Assumptions on how compensation for disabled police men and women will be funded are not good enough for a unionist politician who has this week challenged the Minister for Justice and said he must "get to grips with the hearing loss issue".

Ulster Unionist Finance Spokesperson David McNarry was speaking after the Minister confirmed that he has had "no discussions with the full Executive on the issue".

Challenging this, the UUP MLA said that it was a matter for "all at the Executive table".

"I welcome the fact that the Minister is, in his own words, 'in discussion with the Department of Finance and Personnel about the first £12m of costs this year', but am concerned by his failure to do anything more than 'assume' Executive agreement over how these costs will be met," he said, yesterday.
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Targeting the deal on hearing loss compensation for RUC officers specifically, he said: "The terms of the Hillsborough Agreement quite clearly state that the Executive must corporately meet the first £12m of claims in any one year, and sums above and beyond this will be dealt with on a basis agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive and HM Treasury.

"Mr. Ford's thinking on how the Executive works and his role within it was summed up when he said "assumed that, as the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister were involved in the negotiations for the package, it would achieve broad agreement in the Executive".

David McNarry slammed this admission and said: "It is deeply worrying that Mr. Ford's idea of collective responsibility does not extend beyond the DUP and Sinn Fein.

"The Minister is approaching six months in post and it is vital that he brings this matter to the Executive table rather than 'assuming' it can be signed, sealed and delivered by the DUP and Sinn Fein.

"The Executive must work as a single unit on all fiscal issues that lie ahead - and judging from the manner by which some parties in the Executive have been acting with regards to financial matters, it seems verging on foolish for the Minister to assume anything, particularly given the Executive's historic dysfunctional nature."

(BMcC/KMcA)

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