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Concern at Ritchie reaction to Executive response to economic hardship

15 December, 2008 - by Mickey Brady

Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MLA Mickey Brady has accused DSD Minister Margaret Ritchie of sending out confused messages relating to the package of measures announced by the Executive today to help people facing economic hardship.

Mr Brady said:

"At this mornings Executive meeting both the December Monitoring paper and the package of measures to address ongoing economic hardship were passed without dissent.

"Yet as the day has went on and Margaret Ritchie has touched base with her party and advisers she seemed to have U-turned on her Executive support for a £150 fuel credit to be paid to 100,000 households.

"It was of course only after the intervention of the Office of the First and deputy First Minister that we ensured that the 36,000 pensioners excluded by Minister Ritchie's proposals were brought in from the cold.

"The Minister has also raised late concerns over the allocation of December Monitoring money having endorsed it at the Executive. This is money handed back by departments who have been unable to spend it including £30m from DSD. It is then reallocated. It is the nature of the quarterly monitoring rounds that some departments benefit more than others. That is the nature of government. A concept which Minister Ritchie seems increasingly incapable of understanding." ENDS

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