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Mairtin O Muilleoir: Public will not tolerate DUP and Brokenshire's austerity agenda

By Mairtin O Muilleoir

There's nothing new about Tory austerity - indeed, Westminster has cut our block grant by 5% since 2010 alone.

But the James Brokenshire budget this week marks a new low - even for Tories who have been gung-ho about slashing health, education and other frontline services in their own front yard.

For now the British Secretary of State is trying to blame local parties for his decision to impose a 2.8% cut on our education services in his indicative budget. Let's be clear, the Tories don't need any excuses to cut frontline services. Indeed, his attempt to point a finger at others for the failure to resuscitate the institutions is rich coming from a government whose refusal to honour past agreements and mollycoddling of the DUP has stymied progress at the talks.

Adding insult to injury, Mr Brokenshire claims he's reflecting the thinking of local parties. He's certainly not reflecting the views of Sinn Fein - despite the constant British Government blitz on our budgets, Sinn Fein has fought to build up communities, protect the vulnerable and invest in public services.

However, he does seem to be speaking for his allies in the DUP who have gone out to bat for the Brokenshire budget. The DUP says I should have brought forward a budget before their behaviour led to the collapse of the political institutions. We would still have a functioning Executive if the DUP hadn't have embroiled the government in the NAMA, RedSky and RHI scandals, treated their partners in government (and the public) with arrogant disdain and discriminated against Irish-speaking children.

Locked in a Brexit embrace, the Tories and the DUP may think they will be toasting the success of the Brokenshire budget at their next champagne reception. If so, they are underestimating the determination of the community to stand up to their arrogant austerity agenda.

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