Ulster Unionist Finance spokesperson, Steve Aiken OBE MLA said:
“Seeing Westminster pass a budget for Northern Ireland is not a sign of a return to direct rule, rather it is a sign of the failure of the last Executive. This is a mess that has been exacerbated firstly by the failure of a Sinn Fein Finance Minister to deliver a budget last year and secondly by the lack of planning in place for the next financial year when we will run into bigger problems.
“Whether it is our own Ministers, or those appointed by the Prime Minister, getting to grips with our budgetary crisis, difficult decisions will need to be made and planning for those should have already started.
“It is disgraceful that we all know that these problems exist and are continuing to grow, yet we are still seemingly no closer to seeing an Executive being established. Sinn Fein’s continued cries over Tory austerity ring hollow given it is within their power to re-establish the Assembly and Executive. If they really wanted to deliver for all the people of Northern Ireland, they would drop their red lines.”