Northern Ireland to take a buffeting from the budget?

The BBC are reporting that the planned £15 billion cuts across government will almost certainly hit Northern Ireland the money that’s calculated through the Barnett formula… They are reporting estimates as wide ranging as The Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry: “Cuts of this scale would take £450m out of our local budgets over the next few years. It remains to be seen if our Ministers can negotiate an exemption for Northern Ireland from this.” Simon Hamilton complains that cuts would be a breach of the deal which restored devolution. Hmmm… This austerity budget is effectively subbing the cost of the bailing out banks… Banks that operate in Northern Ireland just as much as they do in the rest of the UK…

The question is: who is going to get cracked for this? The big spenders at Health, probably?The Health Minister is getting his defence in early:

“Everyone is concerned about the impact of today’s budget and the bleak prospect of further demanding efficiency savings. For health and social care services, the reality is that in Northern Ireland we are underfunded compared to England .

“Health and social care in Northern Ireland cannot deliver further savings without impacting on patient care and standards. This must not be allowed to happen. The pace of the efficiency drive is too quick and is causing too much pain.

“I find this totally unacceptable. People in Northern Ireland deserve better and I will continue to press for increased resources to meet an ever-increasing need and to deliver improved access and quality.”

Problem successfully handed back OFMdFM? As if!

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty