“They’re not putting a time scale on it”

It shouldn’t be a surprise that as the BBC reports, “Northern Ireland to be last UK nation to fix a budget”.

A mandatory coalition, by its nature, will generally find such a process more difficult than a voluntary coalition.

But according to that BBC report

On Friday, the Sinn Fein [Northern Ireland] Regional Development Minister [Sinn Féin’s] Conor Murphy said no budget would be agreed within the next two weeks.

Mr Murphy said a draft budget “cannot be about a distribution of a reduced block grant from the British treasury”.

He said ministers needed to examine proposals to raise revenue, to challenge the Conservatives on their proposed cuts, and to clarify the pledge of the last government to an £18bn capital spending programme.

Well, “proposals to raise revenue” could have been under discussion within the NI Executive at any point over the last two years…

Interesing positioning from Sinn Féin’s Mitchel McLaughlin given that the First and deputy First Ministers, and the Finance Minister, declined to be interviewed about the economy, while DUP MLA Simon Hamilton is sent to man the trench again with some, possibly fictitious, figures on restructuring the administration. The SDLP deploy Declan O’Loan with their suggestions and UUP MLA David McNarry remains sceptical about the Finance Minister’s calculations. Also returning is Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey with his concerns about those “unrealistic” projections. And, yes. That is a ticking sound.

Challenging the proposed cuts?  Have a word with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State.

If the right hon. Gentleman is referring specifically to the budget settlement, it is appropriate that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister first discuss that with me, having done their utmost to come to an agreement and consensus in the Executive on a budget for the substantial funds that have been allocated to them in this spending round. [added emphasis]

Clarifying the pledge of the last government?  Please…

Apparently, from a separate BBC report

Mark Devenport said there was also the question of whether Sinn Fein was ready to accept that the £18bn promised to Northern Ireland by Gordon Brown in 2007 was not going to be delivered by the coalition government.

“Martin McGuinness travelled across to Great Britain to meet with Gordon Brown to clarify the terms of Mr Brown’s promise on capital spending. It seems that at least some of the Deputy First Minister’s thinking is about continuing to fight that battle rather than settling for what they’ve been given.”

I’m sure that Gordon Brown was happy that somebody remembered who he was had been…

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