Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

SDLP in warning over budget cuts

Margaret Ritchie

The DUP and Sinn Fein have been warned not to play politics with the impending crisis over cuts facing the Northern Ireland Executive.

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said the two largest parties needed to form a genuine partnership with their Government colleagues and co-operate for the greater good.

She claimed they had allowed political advantage to shape their economic priorities to date, but her criticisms came as Sinn Fein and the DUP were at loggerheads over how best to handle the impending cuts from London.

DUP Finance Minister Sammy Wilson made a thinly veiled attack on Sinn Fein after the party called for a greater effort to oppose the cuts.

The comments came ahead of Monday's first full sitting of the Assembly since the end of its summer recess.

Ms Ritchie said: "As the Assembly resumes its work, it faces some heavy responsibilities. The full implications of the spending cuts and their effect on Northern Ireland will not be known until the comprehensive spending review in October.

"However, all the warning signs are there and have been for a long time - yet no real decisive action has been taken.

"In the face of this threat we can't afford to have our Assembly and Executive tied down in the sort of dysfunctional, self-serving, carve-up politics we have had from Sinn Fein and the DUP over the last couple of years."

Last week First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson said ministers had to prepare for the cuts of up to 25% that he said faced the Executive.

But Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin accused Mr Robinson of caving-in to the demands of central Government and said republicans wanted to see parties unite against unfair reductions in the Stormont purse.

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