In reply to Simon Hamilton, I say that Sinn Féin’s manifesto outlines a credible and achievable framework to securing a workable budget in the north.
This is a step change from the DUP approach of book-keeping rather than being managers of our financial affairs.
Sinn Féin are focused on protecting public services, increasing the local budget and protecting ordinary citizens from poverty and deprivation.
The Tory Government has inflicted drastic cuts to the local budget reducing it by £1.5bn.
This has seriously undermined the ability of the Executive to deliver public services.
Rather than present a united front and demand the return of the £1.5 billion stripped from our budget the DUP’s Simon Hamilton is more concerned with appeasing his Tory masters.
Minister Hamilton knows that it is possible to renegotiate the fiscal framework for the north, in just the same process in which Scotland is engaged.
The Conservative-led austerity agenda is the single greatest threat to the people of the north, and he should join us in acting in the best interests of people here by challenging austerity to protect our core public services of health, education and welfare.
Sinn Féin is focused upon repairing and rebuilding the local economy, and protecting people from the worst of the financial and economic crisis. This means putting in place protections for those people mired in debt and facing evictions.
We are not prepared to allow the money lenders and bankers to continue profiteering on the backs of ordinary working people.
Where people have been given access to easy money without ever having the means to repay the loan or where a person’s personal circumstances have changed leaving them with unmanageable debt then there has to be an onus on the lender taking part of the responsibility and part of the pain.
That means having to restructure repayment plans over longer periods, always ensuring that people have enough to live on. It may mean creditors having to take a write down on the debt.
This is about making all of those involved come to an acceptable solution rather than asking the public to take on the debt.