Budget Bill: Second Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 8:00 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Fearghal McKinney Fearghal McKinney Social Democratic and Labour Party 8:00 pm, 9th February 2016

Thank you, Mr Principal Deputy Speaker. I will get to addressing some of the issues. The Member said that Sinn Féin would interrogate the issues: where was the interrogation of the failure to implement Transforming Your Care? There were 99 targets, but little was done. The Department produced a report, but I did not see much interrogation of that. I have to laugh: Sinn Féin's economic plan includes paying off everybody's credit card debt, and he wants to hear from me about my plan. Maybe you should come and join the SDLP, Máirtín. That would be the answer. We will give you plenty to talk about and chew over. You do not have any plans. All that you have is a plan to say that you are proud of adding up figures on one side and not on the other.

I talked about the prospect of investing to save, but I said that in the context of making that we make health the top priority in the Executive. If we do that, it will involve Departments other than the Health Department seeing health outcomes as a priority for them. In other words, let us begin to deal with the core issues and get to the root of the debate: the real issues that cause problems in our health service — not just the flows through it but the issues that cause the logjams. They emerge from long-term unemployment and long-term deprivation in communities such as west Belfast, and you know all about that. Statistics show that west Belfast, north Belfast, my colleague's West Tyrone constituency and Derry and places like it still top the UK league tables for deprivation and long-term unemployment. If we were to begin to tackle those issues strategically, we would have a different approach, but Máirtín is stuck on the figures. He is just adding up figures and saying that he cannot think beyond that. He says that we are asking to move money on the abacus from here to there and back again: that is not what I am talking about, and that is not what the SDLP is talking about. The SDLP is talking about beginning to make Northern Ireland work, be self-sufficient —