Belfast Telegraph

Wilson backs calls for budget deal

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has backed calls for a deal on a new Assembly budget by next week, as tensions grow between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

All sides in the behind-the-scenes talks agree that a budget deal is possible, but the DUP is pressing for a swift resolution and Sinn Fein has said it will not be rushed into an early agreement.

Republicans accused Mr Wilson of wanting to press ahead with the £4 billion in cuts ordered by the Chancellor in his spending review.

But the Finance Minister said he is at Westminster fighting Northern Ireland's corner: "It's left to people like myself and our party to carry the burden in the House of Commons, they (Sinn Fein) will be absent."

He said business leaders were demanding the Assembly help build confidence in the economy and the delivery of a budget was crucial.

"We have only one end point and it is now next Wednesday when the Assembly rises," he said.

Ulster Unionist finance spokesman David McNarry said the public has a right to ask "what on earth is the problem with the Executive finalising a budget?".

"This exercise is not rocket science," he said.

"The Executive has been given a finite amount of money by the Treasury and all it has to do is to agree an overall set of priorities on how to spend it.

"It is not as if they possess any meaningful tax-raising powers outside setting the regional rate."

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