Northern Ireland

Sammy Wilson warns cuts 'could be as bad as in 1970s'

Sammy Wilson

Northern Ireland must be prepared to face cuts as tough as those in the 1970s, the finance minister has warned.

Sammy Wilson said no department would be immune from the massive reductions in public expenditure he expects over the next few years.

Speaking at Belfast City Hall, Mr Wilson also said water charges were inevitable after departments had cut their budgets.

He said water was a service like any other.

"As a party we have identified savings in terms of the administration - the number of MLAs, the number of departments, the number of ministers, the number of quangos," he said.

"But I think that most people recognise that if they are getting water as a service, then just like any other service they're going to pay for it."

Last month Mr Wilson said water charges were unlikely to be introduced before April 2012.

They have been repeatedly deferred since the Executive was re-established three years ago.