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Sinn Fein seeking economics adviser for new Stormont job role

Published 21/07/2015

Among the role responsibilities will be helping to draw up an Assembly legislative programme
Among the role responsibilities will be helping to draw up an Assembly legislative programme

Sinn Fein is to appoint an economics adviser at Stormont.

The Assembly is facing a welfare reform impasse and this year's budget is £600 million short.

The primary purpose of the role - to be filled by an economics graduate - is to provide policy advice and political support to the Sinn Fein Assembly operation and other party structures.

Helping draw up an Assembly legislative programme will be among the post holder's responsibilities, the job application said.

Sinn Fein has backed this year's budget but called upon the British Government to provide an extra £1.5 billion, which it said equates to the amount of spending power Stormont power-sharing ministers have lost over the course of the last parliament. Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has insisted no more money is available.

Most of the £600 million shortfall is due to a dispute over December's Stormont House Agreement and Sinn Fein's opposition to UK Government welfare changes in Northern Ireland.

Republicans believe the reforms, which they consider austerity cuts, will hit the most vulnerable like the disabled. The DUP has argued against further cuts but insisted the deal on offer from the Government is the best available and warned of the potential consequences of the Executive running out of cash.

The Unionist party has called on Westminster to take back full powers over welfare.

Part of the under-funding relates to other departmental budgetary pressures that have emerged since the budget was first struck at the start of the year.

Finance Minister Arlene Foster has said the black hole is set to increase by "hundreds of millions of pounds" with the latest round of welfare reforms at Westminster.

Fresh reforms risk spelling the end for the Northern Ireland Assembly, British Government ministers have been warned by fellow Democratic Unionist Sammy Wilson.

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