Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein MPs meet with SNP to discuss cuts by Tories

By David Young

Sinn Fein MPs have met the Scottish National Party at Westminster to discuss how to co-operate against the Conservative Government's austerity programme.

The Belfast Telegraph has learned that the meeting took place earlier this week, just days after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to join forces in opposition to Tory cuts.

An SNP spokeswoman last night confirmed the meeting took place with Angus Robertson MP, the party's parliamentary group leader.

She said the SNP was open to co-operation with all Northern Ireland political parties when it came to combating the "austerity programme".

Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy played down the significance of the meeting.

"We talk to all the Westminster political parties all the time. We've met the Tories, both the MPs and Lords, the Labour Party and others. There are a lot of new SNP MPs at Westminster and it's important that we get to know them. But there's no plan for a pact," the Mid Ulster MP said.

Sinn Fein has blamed ongoing budget cuts by the Tories for the lack of progress at the Stormont talks on welfare reform.

On Tuesday, the Assembly heard that Stormont's budget would be squeezed by another £38m as a result of a further £3bn of in-year cuts annnounced by Chancellor George Osborne.

The day before, Mr McGuinness slammed Secretary of State Theresa Villiers for not disclosing the full extent of future cuts.

"I fail to see how we can plan for the future against the backdrop of some of the speculation that is coming from London," he said.

"My party is absolutely determined to have the Stormont House Agreement implemented but it has to be done in a fashion which allows us to challenge the attempts by the British Government to continually undermine our budgets."

Belfast Telegraph


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