Belfast Telegraph

Alliance Party conference: Stephen Farry brands failure to pass budget 'a disgrace'

By Noel McAdam

Alliance has branded Sinn Fein as totally reckless for collapsing the Assembly before a budget was set.

Newly-elected deputy leader Stephen Farry said that having no budget for the next financial year - which starts next week - was a "dereliction of duty".

It's left tens of thousands of public sector and community sector workers in fear for their jobs - and would halt proper public investment over the next 12 months, he warned.

The former Executive minister said it was a "complete and utter disgrace" to leave the province without a budget, which was the first and foremost responsibility of a government.

"Done well a budget allows us to plan. Done badly it can cause chaos, (but) not having a budget at all is a dereliction of duty," he said.

On Brexit, Mr Farry said he regarded the decision to leave the European Union as a "huge mistake" and a "major tragedy".

There was a need for special arrangements to deal with the impact on Northern Ireland which would begin to bite sharply over the next few years.

The ex-employment and learning minister also said it was time to consign the "sectarian designation system" of the Assembly "to the dustbin of history" because it no longer reflected the "open, mixed and multiple" identities of people in the province.

Being Protestant no longer meant being a unionist and British and being Catholic did not equate to being nationalist and Irish, Mr Farry argued.

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