DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson has set out the task of the Executive and Assembly to deal with the looming budget cuts. He repeats the NICVA warning of the level of cuts we can expect. He predicts that they could have a:
"...devastating impact and likely bog Northern Ireland down in recession for a prolonged period."
He outlines that while the situation is not of the Executive's making it represents the biggest test for our devolved structures. He argues that if this economic impact is to be tackled then:
"...the Executive’s main priority must be to keep people in work and put people back to work. If necessary, budgets should be skewed to maximise the effect of public expenditure in keeping the economy moving forward."
He rejects salami slicing arguing and that he has instructed DUP minister to act in broad not departmental interests:
"...the Executive must agree a strategic approach to the challenges that we are faced with...I have told my party’s Ministers that their key goal must be to do what is best for Northern Ireland as a whole regardless of whether it is in the narrow interests of their departments."
He concludes with the warning:
"Given the scale of the Coalition's cuts, very difficult and unpopular decisions are inevitable but I believe that the Executive is capable of responding to the challenge. Many people will rightly judge the Executive and Assembly on this basis.”