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Concern at Programme for Government and Budget failures

22 August, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly group Chief Whip, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan has expressed concern that direct rule ministers have failed to deliver on key Programme for Government and Budget commitments despite setting lower standards.

Commenting on the publication of this year's annual report on the implementation Priorities and Budget 2004-06 Mr McGuigan said: "When British direct rule ministers first brought forward their Priorities and Budget for 2004-06 in draft form last year Sinn Féin said that it was a betrayal of the direction, priorities and commitments agreed by local elected representatives.

"Direct rule ministers have not heeded the warning that it would have a devastating long-term impact on vital services particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our society.

"Across a range of areas services have been hit, particularly for our children and young, in our health and education systems and in the priority for tackling poverty. The result has been serious deficits in both Health and Education.

"Senior civil servants themselves recognise that the health service in the Six Counties needs an additional annual investment of between £400m to £500 million to provide the level of services required. Services are not being enhanced or developed they are being run down.

"In failing to secure the necessary finances required to tackle the long term deficit in investment in infrastructure particularly in our roads, rail, water and sewerage and hospital and education systems British Direct rule minister are guilty of almost criminal irresponsibility and neglect.

"In setting their standards so low direct rule ministers have set out to undermine vital services. Despite setting fewer and lower targets direct rule ministers are still failing.

"Targets, particularly to address educational achievement for the most disadvantaged children and young people will only be met with delay. Why? Delays to the Single Equality Bill and to the delivery, by December 2004, of a coordinated Strategic Plan to achieve measurable improvements on equality, disadvantage and community cohesion. Why? This is the true cost of direct rule." ENDS

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