Ford: budget plan shielding DUP and SF departments from cutbacks

Justice Minister David Ford
Justice Minister David Ford

The justice minister has hit out at proposals for budget cuts now being mulled over at Stormont.

DUP finance minister Simon Hamilton has circulated some proposals for his latest budgeting exercise to other ministers.

Such changes were supposed to have been agreed weeks ago.

One source previously told The News Letter that the health and education departments – controlled by a DUP minister and Sinn Fein minister, respectively – are expected to be shielded from cuts.

But the BBC last night reported other departments look set to face a two per cent budget drop.

Justice minister David Ford, of the Alliance Party, told the corporation: “By protecting two departments – one led by the DUP, and one led by Sinn Fein, other parties are suffering significantly in a way which the paper (setting out the budget proposals) does not justify”.

Much of the delay for sorting out the budget has centred on how to deal with large penalties imposed by Westminster on the Province, for not agreeing a package of changes to the welfare system.

A DUP spokesman said last night: “Mr Ford should turn his anger towards Sinn Fein. If they had taken a responsible approach to welfare reform we wouldn’t have to deal with an £87m penalty this year at all.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Hamilton said on Wednesday that he hopes for an agreement by next week.