Northern Ireland

McGimpsey blames SF for budget deadlock

Health Minister
Image caption Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said Sinn Fein showed no signs of agreeing the budget

The health minister has blamed Sinn Fein for the Executive's failure to deliver a budget.

Michael McGimpsey said there were few signs of agreement - despite the comments from the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, that he was confident a deal could be reached.

Northern Ireland is the last of the devolved administrations to agree a draft budget.

The executive has been told to find savings of about £4bn.

The health minister said Sinn Fein was a "key player" in delivering agreement on the budget.

"I don't see signs of Sinn Fein agreeing a budget. I hear lots of talk, but my worry is that they are looking at wider political issues."

The First Minister Peter Robinson has previously warned that an agreement on a draft budget must be finalised within the next two weeks.

Peter Robinson said that time for reaching a deal was running short and a plan must be agreed before the Assembly breaks for Christmas.

There had been concerns that it could take until mid-January for ministers to settle on a plan, but Mr Robinson said he wanted the details completed by 15 December.