‘Reality is we cannot agree a budget’

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald described the “real-life consequences of the DUP collapsing the Executive” as being “the reality that we can’t agree a three-year Budget” and that £300 million is unable to be spent.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 5th March 2022, 7:50 am

She said Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy has “exhausted legally all options that are open to him” in the absence of a fully functioning Executive.

The first planned multi-year Budget in recent history at Stormont was thrown into doubt following the resignation of first minister Paul Givan, a move which also removed deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill from the joint office.

Mr Givan’s resignation was part of the DUP’s protest at the Brexit Protocol and its impact on Northern Ireland.

Mary Lou McDonald

Speaking to reporters in Belfast, Mrs McDonald called on the UK Government to support families with the increased cost of living in the absence of a Stormont Executive.

“The British Government and the British Exchequer needs to intervene,” she said.

“I’m very conscious that things like windfall taxes, VAT receipts, all of these need to be looked at and need to be distributed to support families and workers at this time.

“We are facing an unprecedented convergence of events. Energy prices were rising anyway because of global inflationary pressures and now tragically, disgracefully we have war in Ukraine and that will only mean further pressure.

“So the idea that the state can step back and leave families to struggle is just unthinkable.”

Sinn Fein vice president Ms O’Neill added: “The British Government need to step up.

“The reality for many people is today that they’re sitting anxious and worried about how they’re going to feed their families, heat their homes, keep their lights on, and unfortunately we are limited in our ability to do things in the Executive because the DUP have walked away.”

Ms O’Neill said that the meeting to discuss the growing cost of living crisis in Northern Ireland had been arranged before DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson had called for it.