Budget for Northern Ireland needs to be set in next two weeks - Dodds

A budget needs to be set for Northern Ireland within the next two weeks, Nigel Dodds has said.

The DUP deputy leader said he was confident such action would be taken as he rejected a suggestion the party, which has a confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservatives, was holding the Government to ransom.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said, in the wake of the failure of talks earlier this month to restore devolution  at Stormont, that she would clarify budget arrangements soon.

Speaking on ITV's Peston on Sunday, Mr Dodds said: "There needs to be a budget within the next fortnight, and there needs to be decisions taken in order to spend that money, not least the rollout of the money that was secured by the Democratic Unionist Party for all of Northern Ireland."

Asked who could take those decisions, he said: "The budget can be set here at Westminster and clearly Parliament can authorise ministers to take whatever decisions are necessary for the good governance of the province."

He added: "That's clearly what should happen and I confidently expect that it will happen."

Responding to presenter Robert Peston's suggestion that the DUP was holding the minority Government to ransom on the issue, he said his party was taking a "common sense" approach by calling for  ministers to make decisions and set a budget.

He added: "Sinn Fein, who complain about too much influence, well, they should take their seats in Westminster and I think they might find that they would have more influence than they currently have."

Sinn Fein has warned that direct rule was not an option for Northern Ireland.

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