‘Funds available for health and education’ – O’Neill
There is no reason why centrally-led funds cannot be released to help address the pressures on health and education services, Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill has said.
“I have been directly engaging with the Head of the Civil Service over the course of a number of weeks to challenge the planned budget cuts within the Health and Education Services,” Michelle O’Neill commented.
“I have consistently argued that the significant funds which departments have been unable to spend for whatever reason should be released in order to address the pressures facing front-line services.
“I welcome the indications that may now be set to happen but there are still many questions facing the Department of Health as to why they chose to embark on a divisive consultation process, proposing major cuts to front-line services when alternatives were available.
“It has always been Sinn Féin’s position that this was a politically-motivated and cynical exercise and should now be ended.
“The Department should re-evaluate their overall financial position, clarify that front-line services will be protected and return to the transformation agenda that I set out as Health Minister.
“I also reiterate our call for additional resources to be released for education in order to reverse some of the arbitrary cuts we have seen such as the axing of the Sports Development Grant.
“Sinn Féin will continue to engage with the Civil Service on that basis and to challenge cuts to front-line services that will affect the most vulnerable in society.”