“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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  • USA

    Peter Baker,
    Are you trying to convince yourself? Ultimately, is it just insecurity? Maybe you should take up a hobby, or get a girlfriend. Even Peter Robinson is starting to show signs of compassion and humility, so there has got to be some hope for you also.

  • Seymour Major

    I think I would be laughing my head off if the situation was not so serious.

    There are 3 possibilities:

    (1) The Executive lets the money dry up and brings Northern Ireland to a standstill
    (2) One of the FM or DFM resigns and brings down the executive.
    (3) The parties agree a budget.

    Surely, the first two options are not options at all. It now looks as though every party will procrastinate in order to see who blinks first. This is a crisis which will go right to the wire with all the brinkmanship and grandstanding that we saw over the devolution of P & J.

  • Cynic

    Conor Murphy’s comments on setting a budget but not being constrained by diktats from the Treasury look interesting.

    So what are they going to do? Impose water charges? Up the rates as a tax on people and jobs? Sell off assets in a falling market?

  • Not-a-nation

    ‘Northern Ireland to be last UK nation to fix a budget’

    Nation!?

  • Nunoftheabove

    SF’s utter ineptitude when it comes to economic matters is a genuine handicap here also, notwithstanding the challanges they have reconciling their own positions in the south (pseudo-left babble) and north (centre right westminster dependency sloganeering) more generally. There are genuine issues of competence here and don’t even get me started on the tuppenny halfpenny tories in the DUP.

  • Glencoppagagh

    “Martin McGuinness travelled across to Great Britain to meet Gordon Brown”

    Would it have been impossible to contact Brown by phone or e mail? Was this unnecessary trip paid for out of the average industrial wage?

  • Glencoppagagh

    I don’t think you can reasonably describe “dependency sloganeering” as centre-right.
    In RoI SF are trying to establish a consituency, in NI they’re simply providing for their sizeable constituency which is steeped in dependency.

  • Dr Concitor

    SF need to recognise that we are Northern Ireland, part of the UK. That’s where the money comes from.( Conor could always ask his old boss,Slab, for a loan I suppose). If they can’t come to an agreement the honourable member for North Shropshire will sort it out one way or another.

  • Dr C, the money may come mainly from UK taxes of one form or another but the Minister will be anxious to spend as much of it as possible on North-South projects and all-island structuring.

  • Glencoppagh, the cost will have been put down to ministerial expenses.

  • Dr Concitor

    Like the A5. A real priority. I mean look how busy the existing road is.

  • Alan Maskey

    Even slopping out their cells was beyond the Provos. Now they are supposed to help run one of Her Majesty’s realms. And, of course, they cannot take responsibility.
    But PSF should not take all the blame. The media should share it. Why not have PSF on the TV explaining their idiotic policies; we could all do with the laugh? Gay Byrne once made this suggestion.: interview the PSF clowns on TV. Let’s watch them make folols of themsleves.

  • Dr C, it’s probably just a matter of time before there’s a proposal for a Derry-Donegal Town-Sligo railway. A grand idea but it would require a fortune to establish and maintain. And some idiot would probably get the bogie gauge wrong 😉