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Budget 2016-17

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Maeve McLaughlin Maeve McLaughlin Sinn Féin 3:45 pm, 19th January 2016

I thank the Member for his intervention. Our position has been very clear — Mr McKinney knows that too well — in relation to alternative solutions to the austerity plan that is being driven elsewhere, external to the House, in moving forward.

I reiterate the point about the crisis in nursing pay. We were told — this is an important point — only last week that the 1% pay increase will cost £23 million. Four days previous to that, it was £38 million. The buck clearly stops with the Minister and the Department to find the money. It is not acceptable at a time when we see pressures on front-line staff that, over the last five years, almost £55 million has been paid out in bonuses to senior consultants. Before I hear the retort that that is a contractual arrangement, I remind the House that the court process around those clinical excellence schemes found that those bonuses are quite clearly at the Minister's discretion.

Mental health is a major issue. I suggest to the House today that spend on services —