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Sinn Féin urges NIO to address funding deficit

11 September, 2003

Sinn Féin Vice President, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty after meeting NIO Economy Minister Ian Pearson has called on the NIO to address the funding deficit that is affecting the ability of our departments to tackle the legacy of under investment.

Mr Doherty said:

"Sinn Féin are concerned that with direct rule ministers running the departments that the funding deficit will not be properly addressed. The Executive was in the process of developing a coherent challenge to the Barnett formula that determines our overall Budget allocation through the Needs and Effectiveness Evaluations.

"In terms of the Budget allocations between the departments the reality is that unless we address this core problem, namely the issue of developing economic sovereignty and bringing tax varying powers to the Executive, then we will be hard pressed to make much progress in tackling the legacy of under investment that affects our schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

"Sinn Féin also told Ian Pearson in the strongest terms that the imposition of Water Charges was not workable and in effect was putting the burden of decades of under investment by successive direct rule administrations back onto the people who live in the North of Ireland.

"Similarly there are serious problems about the way in which the issue of ending industrial de-rating is being handled. Sinn Féin argued that there must be financial support mechanisms that are both targeted of areas most in needs and sectors most in need that address the problems created by high insurance costs, high energy costs and infrastructure weaknesses resulting from under investment that create disadvantage and hamper competitiveness.

"We also discussed the implications of the Review of Public Administration and in particular our view that there needs to be early movement in a number of key areas, specifically in developing new streamlined health service structures.

"It is also important that we get a full explanation of how a number of key reviews will dovetail. How will the reviews of rates, public administration, local government, public appointments and the boundary commission work together to produce a coherent blueprint. The most important question is not the number of future councils but their role and functions. We need checks and balances and we need to look at the electoral boundaries that have created discrimination and imbalance." ENDS

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