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McGuinness comments following Budget statement

4 March, 2011

Speaking after the Budget statement by the Finance Minister at Stormont this morning, Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP said;

"The statement today in the Assembly that an additional £527.2 Million will be available for inclusion in Departmental spending plans for the next 4 years is a welcome announcement. This is a significant amount of money. It includes additional monies, beyond what was set out in the draft Budget published in December, for a number of Departments including £189m for Health, £154m for Education, £51m for Employment and Learning, £107m for Regional Development. Today’s announcement also included the extension of rates relief for Small and Medium Enterprises.

In addition to the above we have also secured access to an additional £200 million for the Department of Justice.

Over the past number of weeks Ministers, departments, various sectors and the public at large have had an opportunity to feed into the consideration of the draft budget. It must be clear to everyone that many of the views expressed have been taken on board.

The Executive’s job has to be to chart a way forward which builds the economy and, at the same time, protects essential frontline services and the most vulnerable in our society.

We can best do this if the parties to the Executive work together in a responsible way.

The budget which will be considered in the Assembly on Wednesday, is over £1.5 Billion more than would otherwise have existed had we simply crafted a budget based on the reduced Block Grant. This should be an encouragement to everyone that, if we continue to apply ourselves and look at new ways of doing things, we can make a critical difference to peoples lives.

Dishonest politicking and pre-election grandstanding from any party to the Executive will contribute nothing to the progress we need to make.

Now is the time for leadership and responsible politics. We have much more work to do in the period ahead in all of this. All parties need to play a role in this. CRÍOCH

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