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News Digest: Salmond challenged to put price on independence

The Treasury has challenged Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond to provide estimates for the cost of independence as it prepares to publish its own price tag for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum.

The UK Government says it will put a figure on the amount which will be saved by people in Scotland if it "avoids the public spending cuts and tax rises that an independent Scottish state would have to undertake, in order to offset the fiscal impacts of independence by 2035/6".

The figure would effectively represent the UK Government's view of the cost of independence over the next 20 years.

The Treasury's projections found that an independent Scotland "would face a substantially greater fiscal challenge than if the country remains a part of the UK".

The analysis looks at the costs of creating a new state and considers research by the Institute for Government (IfG), the London School of Economics (LSE) and Professor Robert Young.

Prof Young's research estimates that it could cost up to 1% of a country's GDP to establish the new systems required to run a newly-independent state. In Scotland's case, 1% of its GDP would see taxpayers face a £1.5bn tax bill – equivalent to £600 per household, the Treasury said. UK Government analysis has also put the costs of a new benefit system at £400m, and setting up a new tax system at as much as £562m.


Gang leaves man seriously injured in street attack

A man has suffered serious injuries after he was found beaten unconscious by a gang in Belfast.

Detectives in west Belfast are appealing for information following the serious assault in Roden Street early on Sunday.

Police were called to the scene at around 1.40am following reports of a number of men assaulting another man in the street.

Officers found an unconscious man lying in the street upon their arrival a short time later, with injuries to his head, back, arm and hand.

The man was taken to hospital to be treated for his injuries which are serious but not believed to be life-threatening.

Detectives would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and who may have witnessed the assault or anyone who has any information to contact them at CID in Woodbourne on the non-emergency number 101.


Boy in court over sectarian attack

A 13-year-old boy is to appear in court charged in relation to a petrol bomb attack on an Orange hall.

Police in north Belfast arrested the teenager following a sectarian attack in Clifton Street on Saturday.

The PSNI said they were treating the incident as a hate crime.

Police have charged the youngster with possession of a petrol bomb in suspicious circumstances, throwing a petrol bomb and attempted criminal damage.

A spokesman for the PSNI said: “He is due to appear at Belfast Youth Court on Friday 20 June.

“As is normal procedure, the charges will be reviewed by the PPS.”

It is understood that the petrol bomb fell short of the Orange hall and no damage was caused.


Jewish museum shooting spree

Prosecutors are looking for a lone suspect in a weekend shooting spree at the Jewish Museum in Brussels that left three people dead and one in a critical condition.

Deputy prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch said the suspect “probably acted alone, was armed and well prepared.”

Police had detained one suspect late on Saturday but he was soon released. The fourth victim “is still alive but in a very critical condition,” she said.

An Israeli couple and a French national were killed and a Belgian was injured in the attack. Israel's Foreign Ministry said the couple were in their 50s from the Tel Aviv area.

The attack, which came on the eve of national and European Parliament elections, led officials to immediately raise anti-terror measures.



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