[Sinn Fein]

16 October 2000

The budget cannot meet our needs

Sinn Fein Mid-Ulster Assembly member Francie Molloy, Chairperson of the Finance and Personnel Committee, ahead of Tuesday s Budget announcement by Mark Durkan, has said that the budget cannot meet our needs.

Mr Molloy said:

I have already discussed this budget with the Minister and the Assembly committee will take the time to properly scrutinise the budget proposals. All Ministers will no doubt be expressing disappointment with the final budget settlement. I would share the concern that the budget will leave us with insufficient money in the pot to meet our needs.

We have to be very clear about our budget priorities. Health, education and economic development are clearly priorities but at the same time our infrastructure is crumbling.

If we are to make a difference and face the challenges of a society emerging from conflict - where the social and economic fabric of society has been damaged by partition, discrimination and conflict, then we need a budget for the reconstruction of our society and the creation of a new future with justice and equality at it s heart.

There are limits on what we can do with the budget we are given. In the intermediate and longer term we must set more ambitious targets that reflect the substantial unmet need. This will ultimately need a substantial injection of additional resources. The block grant we are allocated is totally inadequate.

The basis on which our block grant budget is allocated the Barnett formula, has been criticised by its architect, Joel Barnett. It is time that we saw a budget that reflected our needs not a budget based on a head count. It is time we saw a real Peace Dividend capable of impacting on the ground and delivering real change.

We must demand an increase in the block grant. The Irish government is also currently in a strong position with a vibrant economy and I think we need to look at mechanisms for them to contribute to a budget that can aid the reconstruction of our society.

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