Education funding prioritised by Sinn Féin in budget talks

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North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed the extra funding allocated in the final Executive budget to Education.

Mr McKay who was a member of the party’s team that negotiated the Stormont House Agreement said: “There is an unprecedented challenge ahead for everyone in the north as we face the prospect of a British Government not only continuing with its policy of austerity for 4 more years but reducing public spending to levels not seen since the 1930s.

“It was clear that the draft budget did not adequately meet the needs of schools and Sinn Féin made it clear to other parties that it needed to be a priority along with university funding. It is to be welcomed that education has now received a significant uplift in funding that will go to our local schools.

“I met with County Antrim school principals in Ballymena and Ballycastle last week who outlined acutely the effects that the draft budget would have on their staff and most of all their pupils.

“In my view you cannot have a budget that moves the economy forward without adequate funding for education and our universities.

“Last month we secured £500million extra money for education capital work from the British Government. That is good news for construction and will also help all schools that have capital works in the pipeline.

“However the more the British government continues it’s austerity policy the clearer it becomes that we need to be taking the wheel when it comes to our economy and we need to push for more fiscal powers to be transferred. Sinn Féin believes that public services need to be protected and the only way to do that is by ensuring that such decisions are taken by local politicians who are accountable to the local public.”