Farry say Budget move sad consequence of political dysfunction

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said local Budget legislation going through Westminster is a “sad but inevitable consequence” of political dysfunction.

Dr Farry was speaking ahead of the Budget Bill being taken through Parliament this coming week by the Secretary of State. He said the move was part of a “slippery slope towards full Direct Rule”.

“Alliance is a firm supporter of power-sharing devolution. Local decision-making and accountability are crucial to ensuring this region can realise its full potential. While we cannot welcome this intervention from the Secretary of State and the UK Parliament, we recognise in the present circumstances there is no alternative.

“The Budget is essential to ensure the full drawdown of resources for public services and to provide the legal authority to spend. It is too late in the year to reconsider details, but this Budget does not reflect Alliance priorities nor is it sufficiently strategic. We would be doing things very differently.

“But passing a budget doesn’t address the governance gap. Therefore, these scarce resources cannot be spent efficiently and effectively, and key reforms cannot be progressed. Already the 18/19 Financial Year is set to be challenging, and the waste and delay from this year will only serve to make the next Budget even more difficult.

“Even at the eleventh hour, we can arrest this slippery slope towards full Direct Rule. There are interventions around an external mediator, a different format for the talks, and reform to structures and mechanisms that can better incentivise progress.”

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