Alliance discusses Assembly financial crisis with Secretary of State

An Alliance delegation today met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers and the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ben Wallace, to discuss the current political and financial situation.

Speaking after the meeting, Alliance MLA Stephen Farry said: “We had a productive meeting which naturally focused on the ever deepening financial crisis facing the Executive, largely but not exclusively caused by the ongoing impasse around welfare reform, and the political implications arising from this.

“There are no illusions by us or the government over the depths of this current crisis. It is abundantly clear that there is no prospect of fresh resources from the UK Government. The resolution of this matter lies in the hands of the local parties.

“The choice is clear. Either the parties find the means to honour the agreements made at Stormont House and begin the process of restoring financial sanity, or Northern Ireland budgets fall apart with all of the political repercussions of that. Either the parties locally implement a Northern Ireland-tailored version of welfare reform or we will see, by one means or another, the full blown GB version of welfare reform.

“Already all public services, including those that the most vulnerable in society rely upon the most, are suffering. This will be compounded in the context of further budget cuts. The irony will be that the very means that help to address the poverty trap and provide opportunities to those on welfare, will be some of those that suffer the most.

“Alliance also took the opportunity to raise our concerns about the implications of the incoming Government’s plan to replace the Human Rights Act with ‘a British Bill of Rights’ and the particular implications for the local peace process.”


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