McGuinness: “Work on the programme for government has been going on prior to the election for some months.”

With only two weeks set aside to allow the new Northern Ireland Executive’s Programme for Government to be thrashed out, and agreed between the parties, you might think that time was of the essence.  But apparently not…

The BBC are reporting that there will be a delay to the start of those negotiations.

That may be a surprise to the new Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle, Martin McGuinness.  On Sunday he told the BBC that

“On Monday, we will be entering discussions to agree and conclude a deliverable programme of government.

“This programme must build on the progress to date and must represent a further step in the new start for our institutions.”

He told BBC Radio Ulster’s The Sunday News that he hoped the programme for government negotiations could be finished before the two weeks allotted.

Work on the programme for government has been going on prior to the election for some months.

“I do believe a considerable amount of work has been done. I would hope it could be concluded fairly quickly.” [added emphasis]

In other words, now that they have negotiated the minor inconvenience of an election, we might eventually get to see the Programme for Government that the old Executive Sinn Féin and the DUP have already negotiated.  It’s just as well nothing much changed in the election…

And with that minor inconvenience out of the way, it’s also safe to publish the Northern Ireland Executive’s guide to Welfare Changes – a handy booklet landed in my letter-box this morning with the details.  Including this on the Benefit Cap

What happens next?

We will contact the households that may be affected by the Benefit Cap before it is applied.

New legislation recently passed into law in Great Britain further limits the total amount of benefit that can be paid to a household to £20,000.  This is not yet law in Northern Ireland but it is likely to be introduced in the coming months. [added emphasis]

And with the DUP and Sinn Féin having handed powers over welfare back to the Conservative Government in London last year, there is nothing the newly elected Northern Ireland Executive can do about it.

[Can you say ‘contempt for the electorate’? – Ed]  No.  But you can.