Belfast Telegraph

Plan to meet PM over spend review

Northern Ireland political leaders hope to meet the Prime Minister over their claims they were short-changed in the Chancellor's Spending Review.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness again dismissed Government pledges it was on-track to fulfil agreements for £18 billion to be spent on infrastructure projects in the region by 2017.

He also told the Assembly that talks are continuing between Stormont parties on agreeing a new budget in the wake of the Westminster cuts.

Despite First Minister Peter Robinson calling for a budget deal within the next two weeks, the deputy First Minister said the talks would continue until the best deal was achieved.

But Mr McGuinness said the Government must clarify its position.

The Sinn Fein representative claimed Treasury officials had provided figures which challenged Government claims that it was upholding investment pledges made in the 2006 St Andrews deal that paved the way for the power-sharing Assembly.

Mr McGuinness said: "We have had a few wobbles in the process where it became clear at a very early stage that there seemed to be some difference of opinion between Treasury officials and those in political leadership, namely (Secretary of State) Owen Paterson and the British Prime Minister."

He said Assembly ministers wanted to see the promised Westminster paper on creating an enterprise zone in Northern Ireland and cutting the region's corporation tax to match the Republic of Ireland's 12.5% figure.

"It's a work in progress but we are very much at the mercy of what comes from London and we await the outcome of what hopefully will be a positive result for us," said Mr McGuinness.

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