“No party should be playing politics [with the NI budget].”

With anonymous “republican sources” briefing anyone who will listen about tensions between the DUP and Sinn Féin over the still-to-be-agreed draft Northern Ireland budget, and while noting the DUP’s response reported here

“The DUP has one approach to the budget,” [a DUP spokesman] said. “We are confident a budget will be put in place.

“We are not playing politics with the budget. This is too important.

“Families are struggling to pay mortgages. People are wondering if they are going to have a job after Christmas.

“Peter Robinson set out a timescale for a budget.

“No party should be playing politics.”

…it’s worth recalling this astute comment by the BBC’s Jim Fitzpatrick

Failure to agree a budget would be a crisis worse than anything else this Executive has faced.

The statutory measures that would come into place then would allow Stormont to spend just 75% of the available money – at which stage the tough Tory cuts become extreme Executive ones.

For that reason alone, it can be said with an even higher percentage of certainty than Basil McCrea would predict for dissident capability that a budget will be agreed.

Everything else you see and hear between now and then is largely political posturing. And it’s posturing which suits the two big parties. [added emphasis]

When a budget is finally agreed the detail of it will be lost in the thanks and praise showered upon the parties for “making tough choices for the good of the country”.

As I said at the time, that would depend on how well-behaved the witnesses are…

Of course, one of those two parties, in particular, will be keen to put as much distance as possible between the draft NI budget and what is being unveiled today in Dublin…