Belfast Telegraph

Budget deal imminent, says Peter Robinson

A new Assembly budget dealing with the billion pound cuts ordered by Westminster should be agreed soon at Stormont, First Minister Peter Robinson said.

He told the Assembly that progress was being made and signalled that agreement was within reach.

Mr Robinson said it was important to get a deal before Christmas to provide certainty to publicly funded bodies.

He added: "There is nothing that I have seen in the negotiations around this budget that I didn't see three and a half years ago when I was doing it myself as Minister for Finance.

"I believe that people do want to get an agreed budget in this process.

"I believe that there is serious engagement in terms of getting it, but you never know until the moment the hands go up at an Executive meeting or in the chamber whether you have got an agreed budget or not.

"We are elected to reach decisions, not to avoid them."

He added: "I know that the budgets for Scotland and Wales have just been agreed, they however were agreed within a structure which is much less complex than ours.

"We have five parties on our Executive.

"We want to get the widest possible agreement on a budget from those five parties and bring it to the assembly.

"Our processes seek to get a high level of consensus."

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