Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Stormont spending crisis isn't resolved, it's got worse, fumes David Ford

David Ford, Justice Minister
David Ford, Justice Minister

Sinn Fein and the DUP have been accused of "tearing up the rule book" on public finances.

The charge came from Justice Minister David Ford, who is facing the largest single cut in his departmental budget – at £22m it is more than a quarter of the total facing all departments.

Mr Ford said the decision to defer the crunch issue of how to tackle Treasury-imposed penalties for failing to implement welfare reform would only make a bad situation worse.

Speaking after yesterday's Executive session, he said the two largest parties were guilty of grossly mismanaging public finances.

"It's politically clever in the short-term, but financially stupid in the long-term. They have torn up the rule book for properly managing public finances. People need to know that today's political deal doesn't mean that the budget crisis has been resolved – it's made it worse."

Ulster Unionist minister Danny Kennedy, whose department faces an immediate cut of £7.1m, said the DUP, and especially Sinn Fein, were guilty of "voodoo politics".

A party statement said: "The very harsh reality is that services are facing cuts. The Department for Regional Development will be forced to look at services such as road maintenance and street lighting."

A total of £90m was reallocated for building projects, which Mr Hamilton said would provide a boost for the construction sector and first-time house buyers.

SDLP Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said finances to save the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, under threat of closure, were secure.

"It is excellent news for all the supporters of Exploris, both near and far, and particularly for the people of Portaferry. They have fought a valiant campaign, highlighting not just the regional importance of Exploris, but have also argued that it is vital to the social and economic well-being of the town."

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