Simon Hamilton jumped gun on budget plan, says Sinn Fein
Stormont's spending stalemate has sparked fresh confusion after Sinn Fein insisted it had not signed off on proposals from DUP Finance Minister Simon Hamilton.
Mr Hamilton's department revealed late on Wednesday that he had circulated a paper to his Executive colleagues – an indication that agreement had been reached behind the scenes.
The minister's department also said a meeting to finalise the long-delayed deal would be called early next week, with the possibility it may have to be ratified by the recall of the Assembly.
But then Sinn Fein made clear: "There is not yet an agreed paper or agreement to convene an Executive meeting."
There was no further statement from Mr Hamilton's department or his party yesterday but senior sources indicated there was still optimism that a deal could be struck next week.
A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "With enormous progress made and agreement close, the Finance Minister released a paper yesterday which (we) had not signed off on."