Northern Ireland

Welfare reform: Election may change argument says McGuinness

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Media captionSpeaking at the launch of Sinn Féin's 1916 Easter Rising commemoration plans, Mr McGuinness said a deal was "still eminently doable"

The outcome of the general election in May could "change the argument" over welfare cuts at Stormont, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said.

He was speaking ahead of further talks with DUP leader Peter Robinson on Friday.

Negotiations have been continuing over the scope of a benefit top-up scheme to be funded from the Stormont budget.

Mr McGuinness said a deal was "still eminently doable".

'Fruits of peace'

But he added that if a Conservative-led administration emerged in May, "the pain people here have seen so far will be nothing to what they will experience in the time ahead".

The Sinn Féin assembly member said he believed Labour leader Ed Miliband "gets it in relation to people who have emerged from conflict needing to benefit from the fruits of peace".

"This Tory-led administration in my view doesn't get it and I think that's a terrible indictment of them," he said.

He criticised Chancellor George Osborne for saying there would be a further £12bn in welfare cuts in the next parliament.

Mr McGuinness was speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin's plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The current impasse began last week after Sinn Féin withdrew its support for welfare reform legislation.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said talks had been constructive.

However, there was still no sign of the dispute being resolved.

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