Dealing with cuts “will present the Executive with its biggest policy challenge to date”

There’s been much public posturing from the two main [mandatory] coalition parties here following comments by the Northern Ireland First Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, about the expected cuts in public expenditure.

Reported attempts by the deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, to play down suggestions of a split appear to have fallen on deaf, non-Ministerial, ears within his own party.

Mark Devenport tells us that

DUP sources reckon there’s a difference between the public line being pushed in Sinn Fein’s news releases and what they are hearing in private from their counterparts in the Executive.

And, although we know that some departments have failed to provide requested details to the NI Finance Minister, we’re also told

Assembly sources have made clear that preparations for budget reductions are ongoing within all departments, including those with Sinn Fein ministers. The party’s non co-operation stance appears to be mainly limited to not giving the Department of Finance documentation on spending priorities.

Ministers from all parties did take part in a special “away day” discussion on cutback options in July at Greenmount College near Antrim.

Added to such ideologically opposed [in theory] parties now joined at the hip [in practice] we have some outside [trade union] agitators attempting to enter the fray.

Will they be stamping their little feet all the way to the next election?

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