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Bradley should look at Social Development mismanagement before criticising Education Department

16 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Group leader John O'Dowd has attacked SDLP Education Spokesperson Dominic Bradley and encouraged him to look at the millions 'surrendered' by the Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie before criticising the Education Minister.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"The SDLP attacks on Sinn Fein Ministers would carry more weight if they were able to recognise some of the wider problems within the budget.

"The idea that Dominic Bradley criticises Caitríona Ruane for returning £35 million in unspent funds allocated to her department's budget to the Minister for Finance Peter Robinson while Margaret Ritchie is guilty of surrendering double that amount - some £66.5 million in December and £9.8 in October, is nothing less than pathetic.

"Some of this funding returned by the Education Department was then allocated to housing. This appears to be lost on Dominic Bradley.

"The fact is that Margaret Ritchie returned £39.9 million in capital allocation at a time when she was saying she didn't have enough money to build new homes.

"The reality is that we do not have enough money in the Budget. We need greater fiscal independence and we would argue reunification to resolve the wider problems. Sinn Fein have voiced concerns about the loose management of money and encouraged a move away from the current approach in over allocating funds to create in-year flexibility.

"The SDLP need to wise up and realise that their brand of school yard politics adds nothing to the real debates that we need to have about the Budget." ENDS

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