Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Budget deal: Alliance Party's Stephen Farry accuses Sinn Fein and DUP of 'poor financial management'

The Alliance Party has accused Sinn Fein and the DUP of "poor financial management" as the fallout from the Budget deal between the two biggest Stormont parties continued.

Alliance Department and Learning Minister Stephen Farry said the DUP's admission that it agreed to 'ringfence' education spending, even though it did not agree with the decision, as evidence the Budget was agreed "for political rather than proper" reasons.

The attack came after DUP Finance Minister Simon Hamilton told the Belfast Telegraph that, unlike health spending, he did not believe special protection for education could be justified.

Ringfencing both education and health – which together account for more than 60% of the total Stormont budget – meant Mr Farry and his Alliance colleague Justice Minister David Ford were among ministers taking the biggest hits in the latest quarterly monitoring round.

Mr Farry said: "Simon Hamilton has given further evidence that budgetary decisions have been taken for political reasons without any proper, strategic consideration of the financial priorities and pressures.

"Their acceptance of a 'one for you, one for me' deal to protect a department for each of them, only added to the budget difficulties that all public services will now face."

Already under fire after warning the expansion of Magee College in Londonderry may not go ahead, Mr Farry confirmed his department would have to make an estimated total of some £34m of savings by the end of next March.

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