Foyle MLA Ciara Ferguson: "The irony won't be lost on anyone that the Economy Minister, who along with his party championed Brexit, is now complaining of a shortfall in his departmental budget."
Sinn Féin's Ciara Ferguson has said DUP Economy Minister, Gordon Lyons, and his party need to accept responsibility for the 'huge hole' Brexit has left in the department's budget.
The Foyle MLA was speaking following a meeting of the Economy Committee at Stormont revealed a significant dent in the Department for Economy's (DfE) budget for the next three years.
That dent comes via the loss of £65million per year in EU funding which the North is no longer eligible thanks to the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.
Mr Lyons had previously said in a Assembly debate on September 19, 2016 that, “the United Kingdom as a whole is better off outside the European Union. We have seen already how the scaremongering from other parties in this House and, indeed, other parties across the UK, has been found to be completely false”.
Ms Ferguson reminded the Minister of what he said in relation to what has been revealed by the Economy Committee and has called on the Minister to accept responsibility for the financial shortfall.
She said: “Today the Economy Committee was briefed on the Department's budget allocation for 2022 to 2025 and was told the loss of £65 million per year in EU funding has left a 'huge hole in DfE core business'.
“In particular this is a huge loss of funding for skills and training and for business development.
“The irony won't be lost on anyone that the Economy Minister, who along with his party championed Brexit, is now complaining of a shortfall in his departmental budget.
“However that is cold comfort to the community and voluntary organisations and young people who stand to lose out as a result of the loss of funding.
“Last year Finance Minister Conor Murphy was able to plug the gap through Covid funding so the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund could be extended for a year.
“However I remain unconvinced that the British government’s Shared Prosperity Fund will deliver anything near the level of funding the north received from the EU.
“The dithering from the British Government in putting this funding in place and its undermining of the Executive and Assembly in the administration of it, means it is near impossible for the department or organisations to plan ahead for the delivery of the vital programmes.
“Rather than decrying the 'huge hole' in his budget, the Economy Minister and his party need to accept responsibility for the role they have played in the loss of vital EU funds.”
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