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Dublin's £42m for Stormont Assembly

By Noel McAdam

Finance Minister Peter Robinson today told Northern Ireland consumers that they will be around £1,000 better off as he unveiled the Executive's first budget.

The DUP man also revealed that the Republic's government is to provide almost half the money for a new £90m innovation fund for the Stormont Executive.

Dublin Finance Minister Brian Cowen has pledged £42m over the next three years allocated to all government departments, the Finance Minister told MLAs during a statement on the final draft of the Executive's Budget.

Describing the first package as the building blocks for a new and more confident province, Mr Robinson said the freezing of the regional rate over the next three years would give households an average £1,000 boost.

"Let those who say that devolution makes no difference explain that logic to the average household which will be £1,000 better off than they would have been if Direct Rule had continued," he said.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey - who has clashed with Mr Robinson on funding - is to receive an extra £57m over three years, giving him £30m for mental health services and £14m for modernising the fire service.

Mr McGimspey had battled with the Assembly Health Committee and the Finance Minister after he claimed the original budget allocation was not enough.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie also saw her budget for affordable housing swell by £205m over three years to build 5,250 new houses after claiming the original budget did not give her enough funds.

Budget in full - Page 2

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