More pain for Northern Ireland in spending review

Northern Ireland regional secretary Patricia McKeown has said the spending review announced today (26 June) by Chancellor George Osborne presents “a bleak outlook for a society still in transition”.

“The NI economy is still deep in recession and ongoing depression” Patricia said in a statement.
“Chancellor George Osborne has now withdrawn a further £250m from Northern Ireland public spending which could have created jobs, supported local businesses and helped us out of crisis.”

“It is clear from the Chancellor’s statement that similar reductions are on the way for 2017 and 2018.”
Speaking about the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement, Patricia continued:

“At a time when we should be celebrating 15 years of peace dividends we are instead facing our highest unemployment rate, a deepening crisis in life expectancy, premature death for some of the most deprived communities, and a loss of hope for a large section of our young people who now have no prospect of a job in the near future.”
Last week, US President Barack Obama was in Belfast and spoke about those who were still suffering despite the Good Friday Agreement.
“As the US President stated a week ago, there are many in our society who have not reaped the rewards of peace. He understands that there is still much work to do. The UK government either does not understand or does not care.
“Its economic strategy has failed,” she stated. 
“It will continue to fail for as long as the UK government refuses to face up to reality. There is no economic growth. Borrowing has gone up. Austerity isn’t working.”
“Slavishly following the UK’s austerity lead will guarantee that we stay in recession and depression. It will also have deeper implications for peace.”
Patricia said, however, that there was a chance for NI politicians to do something different.
“There are alternatives. Even in the face of more cuts it is still possible to use our £10bn block grant to invest and deliver growth. That means stimulating public services, supporting small businesses, developing new industries and services and creating jobs.

“Much detail on this will be discussed next week when the Irish Congress of Trade Unions convenes in Belfast for its biennial conference. We hope that when the NI government addresses the conference on Wednesday (3 July) it will have a new message for us all.”