First glance at Budget…

GONE are the days when the threat of ‘Dublin interference’ in Northern Ireland’s internal affairs used to lead the DUP’s Peter Robinson to stage a cross-border invasion. These days, as Finance Minister, Mr Robinson is more than pleased to annouce the Irish Government’s £42 million contribution to Stormont’s ‘innovation funds’ – almost half the total. Another early Budget headline-grabber is the £205m over three years to build 5,250 social and affordable new houses – good news for the SDLP’s Social Development Minister, although it’s been reported that this is part of a DUP courtship of the party to “wrong foot the Ulster Unionists and to give the DUP increased room for manoeuvre”. Yesterday the UUP was pre-empting a ” tremendous victory” in winning additional resources for health and social care, and secured £30m in extra revenue (BBC) or an extra £57 million over three years (PA)… although the Health Minister had been asking for an additional £165m over three years. Maybe not that tremendous, compared to how the SDLP Minister did – but maybe that’s Robinson’s intention!