Budget vote was tighter than SF expected?

Strictly for the record, but worth noting that the decision of the SDLP not to vote with the budget must have forced a degree of unexpected pressure from Sinn Fein whips to have sufficient MLAs in the Chamber for the budget vote. Given it was a cross community vote, it needed a nationalist majority to pass. In the event the Aye vote was just 59.5% (and that’s with the Minister voting against the SDLP line).

Six out of the 28 Sinn Fein MLAs did not make it into the chamber for what was, arguably, the most important vote in the legislative year. I count them as: Alex Maskey; Martina Anderson; Raymond McCartney; Paul Butler; Francie Molloy (Deputy Speaker); and John O’Dowd (leader of the Sinn Fein group in the Assembly.