Farry: ‘Those who voted against Budget voted for cuts to public services’

Those parties who voted against today’s Budget Bill effectively voted for cuts to be taken against public services, Alliance MLA Stephen Farry has said.

The Alliance MLA was speaking during the debate in the chamber today (Tuesday), which saw The Budget No 2 Bill pass its final stage, with support from Alliance, the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Stephen Farry MLA stated: “This final stage vote on the Budget in itself does nothing to resolve the financial and political problems facing Northern Ireland, but it at least keeps some degree of hope alive that these challenges can be addressed.

“Alliance took a principled stand against this Budget in the Executive and the Assembly when it mattered, and alternatives could have been agreed. We have a duty to follow through and authorise the supply of funds and the legal authority for Departments to spend money.

“This Budget Bill keeps the money flowing. The actions of those parties, including the SDLP and Greens, that opposed it were reckless in the extreme and would have resulted in an unelected civil servant imposing a more restricted budget, lead to severe cuts with catastrophic consequences on public services and economic growth.

“The parties now need to address welfare reform and the wider implementation of the Stormont House Agreement over the coming weeks to both restore integrity to public finances and allow delivery on key changes around matters such as dealing with the past.

“Beyond that, there are wider discussions about a collective Northern Ireland voice to challenge the current approach to public spending from the UK Government, and to carry on the process of reform to public finances and services within Northern Ireland, such as addressing the cost of a divided society. None of these are compromised by having this Budget in place. Rather, we will be on a firmer footing to get on address these challenges.”

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