13/11/2017

Secretary Of State To Legislate Budget For NI

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire is to legislate for a budget at Westminster today, 13 November.

He said that the civil service will run out of money if a budget is not set by November.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said: "This is British Direct Rule delivered by the DUP and Sinn Féin.

"Almost a year ago, standing shoulder to shoulder in the Executive, the DUP and Sinn Féin promised the public they would not abandon the North to British Direct Rule. Today they have broken that promise.

"After previously conspiring to hand over all of our powers on welfare, it seems that the DUP and Sinn Féin are intent on handing the British Government back full control over our lives. The DUP and Sinn Féin are allowing the British Government to take back control.

"It is clear from the meetings the SDLP has had with the Secretary of State this budget was based on the direction of travel from the previous Executive. It is Sinn Féin former Finance Minister Mairtín Ó Muilleoir’s budget. The budget he failed to set when he was Minister. The budget that will leave the North frozen in failure. With no ambition and no creative thinking on how we take our society forward.

"While public services may 'tick over', in reality they are just standing still. At a time when government here should be working to deliver an ambitious programme for government that protects the North from Brexit and crisis, the DUP and Sinn Féin have abdicated all responsibility.

"It is a dark day, particularly for those who worked hard to see power in the hands of Irish people. Those who promised they would not abandon us to direct rule – have abandoned us to British direct rule."

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA said: "Alliance is a firm supporter of power-sharing devolution. Local decision-making and accountability are crucial to ensuring this region can realise its full potential. While we cannot welcome this intervention from the Secretary of State and the UK Parliament, we recognise in the present circumstances there is no alternative. 


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"The Budget is essential to ensure the full drawdown of resources for public services and to provide the legal authority to spend. It is too late in the year to reconsider details, but this Budget does not reflect Alliance priorities nor is it sufficiently strategic. We would be doing things very differently.



"But passing a budget doesn't address the governance gap. Therefore, these scarce resources cannot be spent efficiently and effectively, and key reforms cannot be progressed. Already the 18/19 Financial Year is set to be challenging, and the waste and delay from this year will only serve to make the next Budget even more difficult."

Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O'Neill commented: "The British Secretary of State will today move to introduce a budget to finance public services here. This is an acknowledgement by the British Government that agreement has not been possible.

"The reason for this is the DUP opposition to a rights-based society. While some progress was made, the denial of rights would not be tolerated in Dublin and London and should not be tolerated here. We met the DUP this morning and told them this.

"Since March of this year Sinn Féin has been seeking agreement on the implementation of outstanding commitments as a basis for restoring public trust and confidence in the institutions.

"Sinn Féin were flexible, we were willing to stretch ourselves to achieve a breakthrough and we were right to do so.

"The DUP's resistance to the implementation of previous agreements and particularly rights available everywhere else in these islands means that there is not a locally-elected Executive to take decisions.

"The British government has been complicit in this, backing the DUP's refusal to honour the commitments previously made and blocking the delivery of equality.

"Theresa May has prioritised her own electoral survival via the Tory/DUP pact over the interest of all of the people in the North.

"This is compounded by the DUP's refusal to accept the vote in the North to reject Brexit. The DUP are committed to the North being dragged out of the EU against the will and the interests of people here.

"Last Friday we told the British PM that direct rule is not an option.

"In the absence of the Assembly and Executive the choice for both governments is between the protection of the Good Friday Agreement or its abandonment.

"These issues aren't going away. It is now the responsibility of the two governments to look to the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement and for a British-Irish intergovernmental conference to meet as soon as possible."

(CD/JP)

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