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It's all about the money tonight.
Finally, a big budget boost
from the Tory-DUP deal.
But is there a downside?
And, as a judge rules
the decision to block legacy
funding was unlawful,
what happens next?
Welcome to The View.
Tonight, a day for
balancing the books.
The Secretary of State has included
an extra £410 million of the money
from the DUP deal in her budget.
But the pill in that
sugar-coating is a big rise
in domestic rates here.
We'll dive into the numbers
with former Stormont Finance
Minister Mairtin O Muilleor former
Alliance leader David Ford,
and the SDLP's Claire Hanna.
And, talking money, Enda McClafferty
has been looking into party
planning in Ballymena.
The chief executive came back to me
and told me that this was not a DUP
You wouldn't need to be a
rocket scientist to find out what
this did not was.
-- what this is
And, back in Commentators' Corner,
Professor Deirdre Heenan
and Newton Emerson.
After considerable uncertainty
as to whether or not it
would even happen today,
the written statement
on the budget finally came
through late this afternoon.
For the second year in a row, it's
been handed down by Westminster -
but this time around,
there was the small matter
of a £400 million boost
from the Tory-DUP deal to add
to the mix.
We'll get reaction from
the politicians in just a moment.
But first, our Business
Correspondent, Julian O'Neill,
has been crunching the numbers,
and he's with me now.
Was it broadly as expected?
I think it was largely speaking,
Mark. The DUP money aside, it feels
very much like last year's budget in
respect of health and education
being prioritised. They get extra
money, and they get an increase
which covers the rise in the rate of
inflation. That's not to say that
they won't feel huge spending
pressures in the course of the next
financial year. Other departments
are less fortunate. They get rises
which don't cover the rate of
inflation, and some actually see a
freeze in cash allocations, or
indeed a reduction. So, I think we
will not feel much of a difference
compared to previous years. And
certainly I think many of us will
still be driving through potholes in
the course of old working week.
have had £400 million of extra money
as part of this deal.
Where does the £400 million money
from the Tory-DUP deal fit?
This is new money, even though we
knew it was coming. £20 million of
that game last financial year, but
now we have the arrival of a
significant amount of money, £410
million. Half of it will be used for
infrastructure projects like roads.
There will be £80 million split
between education and hospitals, to
help ease pressures. Now, we were
looking at a fairly bleak financial
situation in December. The word from
the Department of Finance today is
that this DUP money has not made it
quite as bleak, although we are
still very much living in tough
times in terms of public spending.
Given that that's the case, it is
interesting to note that there is
very little by way of revenue
raising in this budget.
big, tough decisions, which was
attached out in the scenario by the
Department of Finance before
-- which were sketched out. Things
like reintroducing prescription
charges and higher education fees,
they have not been acted upon. I am
led to believe they will be
revisited in the next financial
year. What we do have this year, a
significant thing aside from the DUP
money, and that is a significant
inflation -- inflation-busting hike,
this is a return of devolution in
2007, the rise in the Stormont
regional rate has always tracked
deflation. This at 4.5% is
significantly above that and goes
well beyond what James Brokenshire
did last year, when he introduced a
regional rate increase of 1.6%. This
is 4.5%. I think the Secretary of
State is putting down something of a
market here, it's symbolic, and
perhaps pointing to next year's
budget, signalling that if there is
no devolution than some other tough
financial decisions may have to be
made in respect of revenue.
an interesting little point to end
You've been told tonight
that there was quite a bit
of manoeuvring behind the scenes
to pull any announcement
about MLAs' pay today.
Which we had been expecting.
bones about it, there was to be an
announcement today about the budget,
but that was also to be accompanied
by a statement from the Secretary of
State in the House of Commons which
would have covered MLA pain. Now, at
the 11th hour, those two events
became detached, and what we got
today was the budget alone. And I'm
led to believe that the reason for
that was to allow the DUP to get
some headlines out of the budget
which weren't going to compete, or
be overshadowed by any announcement
on MLA pay, which will come next
Some people might say that
with the Tory-DUP deal delivering
for the DUP today.
it suggests that there was
absolutely no doubt at all that the
initial plan was for the Secretary
of State to make a statement in the
House of Commons today. That did not
happen, and we're hearing it has now
been rescheduled for Monday.
thank you very much indeed. We may
well come back to you throughout the
course of the programme.
Let's hear what the
politicians make of it all.
With me are former Finance Minister
Mairtin O Muilleoir,
former Justice Minister David Ford,
and the SDLP's Claire Hanna.
Both the DUP and the Ulster
Unionists declined to take part
in our studio discussion.
Mairtin, let me come to you first of
all. Julian has outlined where the
extra money is going to be spent,
Key infrastructure payments, health
and education. No big changes as far
as revenue raising our concern. How
is that not good news in a difficult
It's amazing that
the DUP are not here to defend this.
Why they are not here, it is a tough
budget. Inflation is racing ahead at
3%. Therefore, any increase to any
department needs to be at least 3%
to stand still. Seven departments,
in government, they have a reduction
in their budget going forward. This
is not a budget for growth or
development. You know, when the DUP
said they have this wonderful deal
with the Tories, and the price of
course is that they didn't have
rights to Irish speakers -- the
denial of rights to or is because.
But when they said that they were
getting the additional money, some
of us were naive enough to think it
would be additional money, but they
plugging the gap in the budgets are
still being cut. The wonderful money
from the DUP is now being used to
plug the gaps.
That is not how the
DUP with the. Sinn Fein said you
would not accept direct rule at any
price. Here is a budget opposed by
the Secretary of State at
Westminster, an individual act of
direct rule, and there is nothing
you can do about it.
I don't think
they with their pretend that the
budget for health is enough, health
needs 6% to stand still. In this
deal, it's still only 2%. This is in
direct rule, but we all
It was an act of
direct rule today.
that public services need to
continue and budgets need to be set.
We are relaxed about that.
the fuss and sabre rattling that
Sinn Fein was engaged in, at the end
of the day, here is a budget imposed
by a British liquid of state, and
you are compliant.
What I will say
is this -- British Secretary of
State. We need the British - Irish
intergovernmental conference to come
together. That is what the
constitution says, we need to bring
There is still no
sign of it.
I'm content that the
next step forward in terms of
working through this political
crisis and joint stewardship will be
the better. Well, we can't make
progress without that. So, if the
limbo is to be...
But we made
We can't make
progress on this political film
eight, the denial of rights for the
British - Irish intergovernmental
conference -- this political
You of course failed to
set a budget when Sinn Fein help
finance portfolio. Last April, Sammy
Wilson, a former Finance Minister,
called you a political coward for
dodging responsibility as Finance
Minister to present a budget to the
Executive for debate.
I'm in the
studio, where is the DUP? The
Finance Minister can't present a
budget to Assembly. We didn't have
an agreement with the Executive
because the Executive collapsed.
could have brought it to the
Executive table for it to be
No, the DUP were obsessed
with RHI. We didn't have an
agreement in government. The Finance
Minister cannot present a budget.
That's what the failure is. Why did
government fail? It was a failure of
Sammy Wilson says the
reason the Assembly was brought down
by Sinn Fein was your desire to
avoid unpopular decisions.
said it was about RHI and
power-sharing, Sammy Wilson should
be here to say it and defend this
tough budget. That's what it is, it
is not a budget for growth and
investment. It will not provide home
for the homeless or solve the
universities places crisis. It was
signed up by the DUP.
just Okore Phi one point, but a
budget have been brought to the
Executive table for discussion? --
just one point. The blog without the
of the person is that
under by Defence Minister. The rule
takes about six meetings to get
something onto the order paper.
would have been tricky?
What do you hope of today's budget
proposals, is at the best we could
have hoped for in difficult
There is a real
requirement that we seek strategic
decision-making, issues that are
creating difficulties addressed,
what is about rather than what is
effectively a rolling on budget.
Last year we had a kind of Tory
budget based on DUP and Sinn Fein
ministers failing to make strategic
decisions, this year the Tories have
failed to make strategic decisions
entirely on their own. We have huge
inefficiencies in public services.
The crossover pavilion Evian schools
post-16 -- Effie and schools. There
are a range of issues which simply
aren't being addressed. Until we
address them, we will continue to be
living with trying to play catch up,
trying to make the best of what
we've got as opposed to making
strategic decisions, some of which
will be unpopular in the short-term
but will actually allow long-term
What about revenue
raising? That was something which
could have been... Jolyon has talked
us through it, there were various
options for consideration. Apart
from a number of issues of reference
is about revenue raising in that
were pretty meaningless in
terms of the value it would have
produced compared to the public
difficulty in getting them through.
For example, getting rid of free
prescriptions sounds good but it
actually brings in very little
It brings in very little
revenue and a lot of it is taken up
with administering, there are
difficulties. That may be needed as
we look at at well, if we were to
ever implement the reforms to
health, that's the kind of things we
might need to look at. There is also
good deterrent factor of people
taking prescription is too easily,
which has been suggested by some
people. The reality is, and people
currently don't see value for money
because of the inefficiencies in the
Claire Hanna, could it be
worse under the circumstances?
Actually, we haven't seen the
detail, we have a lot more questions
It was a pretty short
Absolutely, nobody had
the opportunity to ask questions,
the last session of Stormont was
pretty opaque in terms of questions
about the budget, but even Tory
backbenchers are asking about the
lack of opportunity...
You had a
briefing earlier in the week was
glad we had a conversation, but as
far as I'm concerned it political
it was, as I call it, the kids
tables, the smaller parties, there
is due process even in that. The
bigger parties had conversations.
had no conversations. This is a
Did you know what
was going to be in it before the
written statement before the House?
We had the same briefing that every
party received from the finance
officials before Christmas and a
response to the consultation after
Christmas, but we had no say
whatsoever in this, and if we had we
would have been arguing.
line is, the last day in 14 months
is left, certainly we need a budget,
departments need clarity and how
they are going to spend so they can
spend effectively, we are not
turning Dinos Arpad additional money
but there is no understanding about
who is making the political
decisions. Last year's budget,
whilst it was presented from
Westminster, everybody was clear it
was laid down on the basis of the
budget that the previous Executive
did not issue. Who is making the
decisions? The extra money,
delighted we are to have it, but for
infrastructure, what oil building
and where? £20 million extra for
targeting social need, that could be
spent for almost any department.
the DUP can say that it has returned
It isn't their money,
it is taxpayers money.
It is money
the DUP negotiated over and above
other money due to come.
That is not
to say the rest of us don't have an
Everybody is going to
benefit from that is the case but
the point is people are entitled to
know and it is a breach of the
spirit of power-sharing Gasper that
this is worse than direct rule
because when Sammy Wilson showboat
it on Twitter how he was going to
see Treasury, the Good Friday allows
for traditions, and they have their
fingerprints all over this budget.
Are we all going to benefit or will
this plug some of the short term
issues without actually dealing in
the long term meaningful way with
addressing the problems of public
services in Northern Ireland? We
might get through this year but we
won't get the benefit if we don't
have proper scrutiny as to how the
money is spent, in a strategic way,
as opposed to spending more on
services than we ought to.
And a bit
of false eye on the part of Sinn
Fein and yourself today. Whenever
you complain about the 4.5 increase
in domestic rates, you wanted to
portraits up, you wanted to scrap
I do believe that if we're
going to have increase across the
board, those with the broader
shoulders have to carry more weight.
So today's increase isn't OK?
believe that increases on the public
should be means tested. The more
money you have, the more you
contribute, it is a basic principle
of fair government.
People in big
houses don't is a serious have a lot
We had revenue imposes,
and we make sure those who couldn't
afford didn't pay. 4.5 shouldn't be
across the board. Those struggling
wake-up today knowing inflation is
hitting them and now they have rates
Part of the point
is people can understand rates hike
if they know what it is going to do.
This is a ticket overbudget, it is
cut-and-paste and nobody will see
any improvement in their services.
Let's pause this because in the
meantime it was funding for legacy
inquests which was making all the
A judge ruled that
Arlene Foster's decision to block
it was "unlawful and flawed".
Sir Paul Girvan said the former
First Minister was wrong to think
she could postpone the decision
until an overall political
agreement on dealing
with the past was reached.
Our Political Editor,
Mark Devenport, asked the DUP's
Sammy Wilson for his reaction
to the verdict.
When we deal with the past, we deal
with it in a fair and balanced way,
and that one particular aspect of
the past is not examined while other
parts of the past or ignored. And
that was... That will remain our
position but I don't want to comment
on the judgment itself.
government heed the government's
advice and release the money now?
That would be a decision for the
government to make. But we will...
We want to see that dealing with the
past, being dealt with in a fairway,
where it isn't seen that in the one
particular aspect of the past is
investigated. We have got a lot of
hurt people in Northern Ireland and
I think they expect to see fairness
and balance in a way in which we do
with the past.
Sammy Wilson talking
to us. David Ford, you adjusters
minister at Stormont, what do you
make of this ruling?
There is a
certain amount of personal pleasure
that I worked with the lord chief
justice and the DOJ worked hard to
put together a plan which would have
commenced the process of speeding up
legacy inquests. It wouldn't have
dealt with all of them but it was to
get the process under way. I took
that paper to the Executive, Arlene
Foster refused to table it for
political reasons and we now have a
clear decision from the High Court
that was unlawful. That legacy
inquests 's should have been speeded
up by the provision of extra money.
That is what we wanted to do, that
is what the Lord Chief Justice
wanted to do. And it was rejected
for purely political reasons by
And the Department is
now request during the provision of
additional funding for legacy
inquests and this can't be postponed
until an outcome to a political
agreement is resolved. Do you think
the government should now go ahead
and release the money?
appear the Secretary of State should
release the money. There is also the
issue as to the role of the
Department of Justice in the absence
of a minister. The normal rule was
when ministers had set a direction
of policy, the civil service
continues to work on that. The
direction of policy I said was
absolutely clear that the money
should be provided, should be
requested from the Treasury from the
money promised by David Cameron and
the DOJ should work with the
Judiciary Committee police and other
relevant agencies to speed up the
inquest process. That is something
which is now set, as a ministerial
direction, and which I trust civil
servants will continue through.
Mairtin O Muilleoir, Sammy Wilson
asked about this earlier today and
he says it is up to the government
to release the money or not. That
seems to indicate the DUP would not
object, which is a possible shift in
the party's position. If it is that,
would you welcome such a
I think it is
appalling, and you're showing what
the price of this Tory-DUP deal is,
that the Lord Chief Justice who has
vigorously independent, not in the
pocket of any party, he made an
appeal that we resolve this issue
which causes hurt and pain, the
British didn't fulfil their
commitment but today to explain that
away, we have Sammy Wilson on the TV
justifying the unlawful actions of
the former first Minister and the
judgment of the courts. And sitting
in judgment now, almost godlike,
over whether or not people will have
access to the truth.
explaining the DUP's position.
Arlene Foster made her position
clear which is she didn't believe
the release of the legacy inquest
funding was balanced. She wanted to
see it as part of a wider package.
This is why it is appalling because
Sammy Wilson didn't explain why
Isn't the case Sinn
Fein has reached agreement with the
government to see 35mm is released
over five years? That was meant to
be part of the deal. Doesn't look
like it'll happen any time soon so
should the money be forthcoming
Remove the politics from it.
The British government made the
commitment to the Lord Chief
Justice, 35 million over a period of
years, that money should be
released, and we did have an
understanding with the British that
they would make sure that happen.
The deal collapsed because the DUP
could not consummate. Release the
money and remove it from the
political arena entirely. Let people
have their inquest.
Do you agree?
Week welcomed the ruling people have
been waiting for. It was
mean-spirited by Arlene Foster to
use it as a bargaining chip. Every
time the government and the two big
parties get into a room, what's
provided for victims is stripped out
and the political will isn't there
and in my mind, they are covering up
for each other. It is a bad taste in
Do you anticipate
We should have
bitten his arm off if he said he
could have resolved this problem
with £5 million, that money should
be released, and it will build
trust, create virtuous circles...
You have to blame Sinn Fein for
Final question... You can't
blame Sinn Fein.
Final question, do
you think £35 million over five
years would sort this issue out once
and for all?
I suspect it would be
more than 35mm is for all the cost
is associated with inquests. The
important point I put was not that
it was going to resolve the issue
entirely by get the process under
way, it was going to prove the
concept as to how we would proceed
to do the full job.
for coming in to join us.
The Local Government Auditor
is to be asked to investigate claims
that £1,500 of rate-payers' money
was used to sponsor
a table at a DUP dinner.
The party may also be asked
to refund the cash paid by Mid
and East Antrim Council.
The DUP has insisted the dinner,
which was attended by the
Environment Secretary Michael Gove
in September, was not
a party fundraiser.
But a letter released under
a Freedom of Information Request,
and seen by the View,
has raised questions
about how the money was paid,
as Enda McClafferty now reports.
He is the MP who just loves to
This is my office, this is
where I work.
Rubbing shoulders with
I've a nice view
photographs. I had dinner with
That happened last
year when the Environment Secretary
joined the MP at dinner in this
hotel at Ballymena. It was billed as
a is this community dinner and
amongst those who sponsor the table
was the local council. Despite
questions raised at the time the DUP
always insisted it was not a party
fundraiser. Does a letter from Ian
Paisley's office to the Council
chief executive released through a
Freedom of information request
suggest otherwise? In it, Ian
Paisley asked the council boss to
make the check for £1500 for a table
payable to the hotel hosting the
dinner. But not to send it there.
And this is where Ian Paisley wanted
the cheque sent, to an address on
Church Street in Ballymena. And it
-- as it turns out it is the DUP
offices. This is the councillor who
obtained the letter through the
Freedom of information request. She
says the K the states this was Ian
Paisley's annual constituency
I find it very alarming
because we questioned and I
personally question the chief
executive around the details of this
dinner and I seek clarity. They told
me it was not DUP dinner.
what happened she tried to raise it
in the chamber this week.
to speak, regardless of whether
you'll my microphone. I will speak.
I've correspondence which makes it
clear... Order, order, order! You
cannot speak on the matter.
Unfortunately, my microphone was
switched off. I wanted to see
clarity about what the chief
executive new and what the DUP
what's they knew as well and
following this we will be going to
the local government auditor said
this can be investigated further.
Ian Paisley wasn't up for talking
about that and about here is someone
who was there and who interviewed
the guest speaker. Did it feel like
a DUP fundraiser for him?
feel that way to me. It wasn't
presented that way to me. It was a
business constituency dinner hosted
by the MP Ian Paisley, something he
does on a regular basis. He was
What checks did council
officials make before handing over
that money? Which asked that
question and this was the response.
I don't think the council have
handled this well at will. It has
been very ambiguous. We were told it
was the North Antrim business
community event but it wasn't Ian
Paisley constituency dinner
supported by in Paisley himself.
think there are big questions. It is
disgraceful the way the ratepayer
and councillors have been treated.
We've suffered massive job losses.
Our rates have been increased by
We asked the DUP for a
response to the councillor 's
concerns but they don't reply. Ian
Paisley, though, has since hosted
another dinner, attended this time
by the former minister Priti Patel.
She, too, is now on his wall. But
this time the local council said no
thanks when invited to sponsor a
Enda McClafferty reporting.
Let's hear what tonight's
commentators make of
what we've been discussing.
Deirdre Heenan and Newton
Emerson are with me.
Let's talk about the budget first
bowl. Nugent, any surprises as far
as you're concerned?
No, I think
it's a mistake for the other parties
to complain about the budget when
it's really one of the things that
we don't have to complain about. The
real issue this budget reveals is
that the DUP, having screwed up the
best deal on unionism could possibly
have got at Stormont, has retreated
to the Westminster comfort zone for
the duration, and this has given it
a great headline to start that. The
debate that we were having about the
Stormont talks has flipped
immediately around to the budget as
if the catastrophe of the past month
has been forgotten, and now we're
arguing about alleged Tory hostility
and the nit-picking details of
finance, when the real problem is
that this budget is a breach of the
1999 act, it is completely outside
the terms of the Good Friday
Agreement. This is the different
between the two other patch up
budgets. It is unambiguously direct
rule. We have been tipped into this
limbo and nobody seems to care.
the DUP not say tonight, we have
delivered an extra £410 million for
everyone in Ireland has blogged it
would be churlish to say, we don't
need money. We need the money.
the other hand, it flies in the good
face of good government. There is no
accountability, no transparency, no
consultation. We don't know what
this money is going to be spent on.
We are told infrastructure,
education and health. We don't know
where is the political direction for
this. In health, we are told it is
going to implement the report. We
don't have the structures in and
systems in place to implement this.
The civil servants that we have are
risk averse. Listening to the RHI on
it daily basis, they are going to be
more risk averse. The idea that they
are going to lead a programme of
transformation is quite frankly
ridiculous. It will be keep the ship
going, steady the ship, as you work,
keep the show on the road. But we
will not get a programme of
transformation, there is no
strategic direction, and we
absolutely need strategic direction,
particularly in health and
They didn't want any
announcement on MLAs' play to take
the gloss off this announcement --
This is the big launch
effectively of their new Westminster
period, as Arlene Foster has
effectively said, Stormont can't
come back this side of Brexit,
really, what it looks like, given
the timetable of these negotiations.
With a Tory deal but can run on
until perhaps the end of the decade,
they are sitting back and thinking,
we'll see what else crops up. They
don't have any other options, they
have walked away from the best
possible outcome they could have
had. They are going to simply sit
back and Westminster, see how they
can operate things from there and
see what they can make of Brexit.
And in the meantime, we have been
left with neither direct rule nor
devolution. And no particular
urgency, it seems, to resolve that
For some long as the
confident and supply arrangement
continues at Westminster, the DUP is
in a pretty powerful position and
today proves it.
I don't know that
they are in a powerful position.
They are enjoying the position that
they are in, but it could go at any
time, it could be short lived. We
have a fragile Conservative
government. They don't have that
much power leveraged. The
interesting thing is, yes, they have
delivered a budget and the money but
we are still in a political vacuum.
We don't have direct rule devolution
and we have no ministerial
direction. We have nobody there to
make the decisions to spend the
money. Well done them for bringing
the money, but if it can't be
delivered in the way it's needed, so
Let's talk about legacy just
to close. You confident that legacy
inquest funding could be
inquest funding could be released
sooner rather than later?
necessarily. I think you have to
bear in mind that traditional
reviews are police actions, and
losing a traditional -- judicial
review doesn't mean that you have
broken the law, the Government has
stalled this for decades and
Stormont has ignored judicial review
He directed them to
look at it again stop your civil
servants are averse to breaking the
When Martin O'Neill said that
legacy should not be a political
issue, it is. It is still in the mix
of all the other and soft issues at
Deirdre, final. Log one
might hope that this decision may
embolden the Secretary of State.
James Brokenshire talked about
consultation and September last year
and we are still waiting on it. One
may hope that this may give Arlene
Foster the cover to say, I'm going
to move it on and do it so boy
interesting thoughts, thanks both
very much indeed for joining us
That's it from The View
for this week.
The Sunday Politics is here
at 11:35am on BBC One as usual.
And, as International Women's Day
draws to an end, let's close
with some familiar faces
from the local political world.