Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Financial future of the north of Ireland could be bleak

BBC News:

An economist has warned NI's financial future could be bleak if a major financial package is not secured as part of a deal to restore devolution.

Professor Mike Smyth from the University of Ulster said the government plans to slow down public spending over the next five years.

Professor Smyth said NI had become too reliant on public expenditure.

Meanwhile, SF's Gerry Adams is to meet Bertie Ahern to discuss any Irish government input into a financial deal.

The talks are due to take place in Dublin later on Tuesday.

Professor Smyth said giving Northern Ireland an increase in public expenditure would not provide a long-term solution to its economic problems.

"To give us more public expenditure is like giving a drug addict a final fix," he said.

"What we need are some self-help measures, some tools to make us competitive, and if our parties don't secure some kind of additional industrial development enhancements they will have failed."

Assembly members are also scheduled to meet later for their first debate since this month's elections.

The politicians will discuss proposals for a new ministerial code and changes to the Stormont standing orders.

Both the Irish and British governments want a power-sharing executive in place by 26 March.

If an executive is formed, it will have four DUP ministers, three Sinn Fein, two UUP and one SDLP.

The rising of the Celts


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