The results of the delayed June budget monitoring round were announced today in a special sitting of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The new NI Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, has a statement here and more details here. Apparently there was over £210million to redistribute, or is that £235million? Not that you’ll find the £210million figure, from the departmental statement, in the NI Finance Minister’s actual statement to the Assembly [pdf file] which notes that “some departments have breached the public expenditure limits set by the Executive.” The still deferred water charges apparently takes up £170million of the available funds, no word yet on what happens after that, and £20million goes towards a reported social housing shortfall of £100million. And nothing towards an estimated bill for swine flu vaccines, and other associated costs, of £55million. The vaccines, already ordered, will cost £18million alone. NI Health Minister, the UUP’s Michael McGimpsey, is not happy. Adds Mark Devenport’s Newsline report.It’s an occasion that can unite the DUP and Sinn Féin.
SF’s John O’Dowd has issued a statement in which he criticises both UUP ministers
“In recent weeks we have endured from Reg Empey an almost constant criticism of the Executive of which he seems to forget he is a member. People will find it hard to believe that this is anything other than politicking when the fact is neither he nor his fellow UUP Minister are in fact fulfilling their Ministerial duties properly.”
And the DUP’s Peter Weir does the same
“Perhaps if Michael McGimpsey ran his department better, he would be able to find more money. A department that is spending millions on consultants, art-work and travel expenses is not one that cannot find extra resources. As for Reg Empey: he is in no position to complain over budgetary allocations given that he is exhorting the people of Northern Ireland to put their faith in the Tory Party that is committed to cutting the Northern Ireland budget by at least 10% , said the DUP MLA.”
There’s also a clip somewhere of Sammy Wilson calling Michael McGimpsey a “maverick minister”. [Adds I’ll let Mark say it – “which is quite something coming from Sammy”]
Still, the NI NI Executive will “be shown” draft legislation on policing and justice powers on Thursday.
From the BBC report
Mr Robinson said: “With regard to policing and justice powers, I defined for the prime minister how I would seek to measure whether sufficient community confidence existed for the transfer of functions.
“I will, at an appropriate point, be seeking meetings with the other party leaders in the assembly in order to establish whether their parties view sufficient community confidence does exist to allow devolution of these additional powers to occur.
“Only when we have established that it is the case will such a transfer take place.
“I would not expect any of the party leaders to express a final view on such a matter until they were aware of the outcome of funding for the new department.”
Let’s see what happens.