Northern Ireland

McGuinness calls on government 'to honour funding'

Martin McGuinness
Image caption Mr McGuinness said his party would oppose proposed cuts

The NI deputy first minister has called on the government to honour financial commitments made by the previous Labour government to the Stormont Executive.

Martin McGuinness said a capital programme agreed by Gordon Brown now rests with the Conservative administration.

The agreement "guaranteed" the NI Executive at least £18bn over 10 years for capital funding.

He said Sinn Fein "will oppose the unfair and unjust proposed cuts".

Speaking from the Assembly on Monday, Mr McGuinness said that Sinn Fein "will oppose the unfair and unjust proposed cuts" by the government.

He added: "The remarks by Owen Paterson over the weekend run contrary to the commitments made by the previous British government which were instrumental in the establishment of the institutions."

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mr Paterson said the government must live within its means and can not be held to financial commitments made by the previous Labour government.

Image caption The 2006 St Andrew's Agreement paved the way for the return of power-sharing at Stormont

Mr Paterson said that "the reality is that Gordon Brown probably made a promise that today Gordon Brown couldn't honour".

At the weekend, First Minister Peter Robinson said the St Andrew's Agreement should guarantee special status for Northern Ireland in the spending review.

It is expected to lead to a cut of up to £2bn in the Northern Ireland budget, up to 25% of its total expenditure.

Mr Robinson said cuts were inevitable but the government must honour the 2006 international agreement.

However, Mr Paterson said circumstances had changed since the agreement was signed.

"You have to question whether Gordon Brown made a promise he couldn't keep - Gordon Brown got us into this mess as chancellor and prime minister," he said.

Mr Robinson said: "If we get less money, we have to deal with less money, but it shouldn't stop us from saying, 'look, you did a deal; this goes beyond the Barnett formula'.

Chancellor George Osborne will announce the details of his Comprehensive Spending Review on 20 October.

The St Andrew's Agreement paved the way for the return of power-sharing to Stormont the following year in May 2007, when former enemies Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness became Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers.

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