Budget opponents 'will be punished'
The electorate will punish Northern Ireland ministers who refused to support the Assembly's budget, it has been claimed.
First Minister Peter Robinson said Ulster Unionist ministers had breached Assembly rules in opposing the four-year spending plan.
Sinn Fein Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy added that the UUP ministers, together with nationalist SDLP minister Alex Attwood, who abstained, would have to explain their actions to the voters.
DUP leader Mr Robinson said: "They have acted in a way that is totally irresponsible."
He said he would not be launching a motion of censure against the UUP for voting against the budget.
"We have got a better means of discipline available to us - in a matter of days the people of Northern Ireland will have their say and I think they will deal harshly with those irresponsible members."
Mr Murphy said voters taking part in the May 5 Assembly election would face a choice between parties acting constructively and those who he signalled had not done enough to deal with £4 billion Westminster cuts.
"Some of the posturing going on, whether people voted for the budget or didn't vote for the budget, is neither here nor there," he said.
"All of us will be going to face the people in eight weeks' time and the people will give their verdict on the work that we have been engaged in here over the last number of months and the work that we will endeavour to undertake on behalf of the people in the coming four years."
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said it was a bad day for the NHS and all who relied on it.