That Budget – by Michael Lagan

There’s something to be said for a political party that against all odds can still refuse to accept, against all the evidence that it responsible for the absolute mess NEI is in today.  Some of that blame must lie firmly with the electorate of the DUP and more than a little of the blame with Jim Allister and Balloon Bap from Donaghadee.

Stormont’s MLAs were blamed by Chris Heaton Harris for a massive £300 million overspend in the past budget round.  Note the generalisation of MLAs blamed, not the fact that monitoring rounds could not take place due to the DUP refusing to elect a Speaker and by extension refusing the right of MLAs to do their jobs for our people here.  By “our people here” I refer to all our people here, whether Irish, British, Northern Irish or any other denomination, not simply the people of ‘Are Wee Country’ Loyalism.  

That £300 million was overspent because the DUP riding on the pressure of the TUV (Jim Allister) and bin lids like Jamie Bryson, who Jeffrey Donaldson was rumoured to have conversations with on an almost daily basis, and dangerous pressure from Loyalist terrorists walked out of Stormont depriving Stormont Ministers and us of their elected right to run these 6 counties and being able to keep its finances in some kind of working order.

We’ve been thrown a scrap of relief, if you want to call it that, in that we now have two years to pay back that £300 million rather than handing it all back in one lump sum in a single year.  However, there’s an issue: should any new monies be allocated to England, Scotland, and Wales from Westminster, NEI, Stormont would be required to pay back that £300 million from that new money.  So, for instance, if nurses in England get another pay rise, the money sent to NEI for that same pay rise will have to be sent straight back to Westminster to pay off the £300 million overspend leaving our nurses or any other public servant out of pocket.

You see there are far-reaching consequences for the DUP and indeed those within Unionism for seeking to stay out of the Executive and Stormont.  Realistically at this point, the NHS in NEI would be well within its rights to at least in part, blame the DUP for the absolute mess it is in.  Well, the mess that was caused within the term that the DUP refused to return to Stormont.

We have the same amount of money to work with, or very close to it, that we had in the last financial year but frankly it’s not enough.  The DUP can whinge and complain about the state of the finances in NEI but in the end, it was they who walked out of Stormont, supported by Allister, Bryson, and every other Loyalist and Unionist baying for EU blood but ironically, in the end, it is they who are damaging their beloved ‘Norn Iron’ and forcing the UK government to see them as nothing but petulant children throwing a tantrum.  When even the UK government and indeed the ERG see what a great deal the Windsor Framework is, one has to wonder if Unionism in NEI is in some way blinded by its own self-importance and entitlement.

Our education system is being slashed, stripped down to a literal bare minimum where the removal of school transport is even being talked about and essential services like children’s mental health services are being removed.  The very unwritten rule of ‘protect the children’ is being thrown out the window by NI Unionism because of sausages and flags.

When we look at the recent announcement from Michael McGrath, the Southern government’s Finance Minister, that the South has a budgetary surplus of a whopping €10 billion, forecast to rise to €20 billion by 2026, while the North is in a £300 million overspend one has to wonder why we aren’t exploiting this news as another reason to push for unity within our time.  Where are all those detractors who said we couldn’t afford unity? I’ll bet those within Unionist sat up and took note.

It’s about time the British government stopped generalising in NEI in a bid to tar everyone with equal blame for the mess we’re in.  This mess, from the earliest days of Brexit negotiations to the present crisis in our entire socioeconomic system, can be laid to rest squarely at the feet of Northern Irish Unionism who caused the entire mess thanks to their unwillingness to negotiate and accept the fact we can’t always have everything when we want it.  It will always be Unionism’s weakness after decades of being pandered to and facilitated.  Now, it seems even the British government is sick of them.

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