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Stephen Farry says budget move sad consequence of political dysfunction

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said the move was part of a "slippery slope towards full direct rule"

BUDGET legislation going through Westminster is a "sad but inevitable consequence" of political dysfunction, it has been claimed.

Preparations are being made for the British government to impose a budget on Northern Ireland by the end of the month, James Brokenshire has said.

The Secretary of State said the move stopped short of direct rule and that he would abandon the idea if the DUP and Sinn Féin could reach a deal in that time.

Mr Brokenshire said Northern Ireland would begin to run out of money by the end of November.

The budget will only deal with 2017/18 financial year.

Speaking ahead of the budget bill being taken through parliament this week, Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said the move was part of a "slippery slope towards full direct rule".

"Local decision-making and accountability are crucial to ensuring this region can realise its full potential. While we cannot welcome this intervention from the secretary of state and the UK parliament, we recognise in the present circumstances there is no alternative," he said.

"The budget is essential to ensure the full draw-down of resources for public services and to provide the legal authority to spend. It is too late in the year to reconsider details.

"But passing a budget doesn't address the governance gap. Therefore, these scarce resources cannot be spent efficiently and effectively, and key reforms cannot be progressed."

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O'Neill said there could only be an agreement to restore Stormont if the DUP and British government were prepared to uphold rights and equality.

Addressing the annual Edentubber commemoration, she accused the British government of putting its own electoral survival ahead of the interests of people in the north.

"It is clear that the Tory government's priority at this time is to sustain its political pact with the DUP," she said.

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