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Budget crisis created by British government austerity agenda: Murphy

The budget crisis facing the Executive has been created by the austerity policies of the British government at Westminster, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy has claimed.

Rejecting criticism from Prime Minister David Cameron, Mr Murphy said: “It is rich for David Cameron to call on the political parties to implement the Stormont House Agreement when his government shifted the goalposts enormously by announcing plans for £25 billion in further public spending cuts.  These cuts were not part of any agreement.  The Tories have no mandate in the north for their devastating cuts agenda.”

Adding that Mr Cameron “is not a neutral observer” Mr Murphy continued: “The crisis the Executive is facing has been created by the austerity policies of the Tory government at Westminster.  This is compounded by the partisan role of the British government and David Cameron’s willingness to engage with the DUP and UUP while refusing to meet with Sinn Féin.”

He called on parties here to unite to fight austerity: “The austerity policies of the Tory government with their cuts to public services have created political instability and have the potential to undermine the peace and political processes.  There is still work to do to consolidate the peace process and the approach of this British government is not helping. The British Treasury has signalled that further budget raids are likely. Any discussion on a budget has to recognise that,” he said.

Pointing out that Sinn Fein has asked Secretary of State Theresa Villiers for a breakdown of proposed cuts, which to date has not been received, Mr Murphy said, “The reality is that if we agree a budget – fantasy or otherwise – it could be further undermined by in-year cuts imposed by the British treasury.  There is money in the system to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Instead however, the Tory cabinet of millionaires in London is choosing to spend up to £23billion on nuclear submarines and giving tax breaks of £14 billion to landlords while tax evasion still runs at £30 billion.  That is money that could be spent on core frontline public services such as health, education and welfare.

“What is required is a united effort from the Executive parties to challenge the austerity agenda of the Tory government.”