Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Wednesday, 19 January 2011

OFMDFM Committee

The first and deputy first ministers have criticised Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott for not appearing at an assembly committee meeting to discuss the draft budget, on 19 January 2011.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness were giving a budget briefing to the OFMDFM committee, which is chaired by Mr Elliott.

Mr McGuinness said it was, "almost as if the Ulster Unionists have a position of opposition to everything".

Deputy chairperson Stephen Farry advised the ministers that Mr Elliott was at a funeral.

Mr Robinson took the committee through the details of the budget as it affected the office of the first and deputy first minister.

He said the department had to make savings of £13.8m by 2014-15.

Stephen Farry was concerned that there was no sign of a programme for government.

Martin McGuinness said their priority had been to come up with a four-year budget but officials were now working on a draft programme for government.

In reply to a question from Sinn Féin's Francie Molloy, Peter Robinson said he thought Northern Ireland had "underperformed in Europe". He was critical of government departments' failure to make a sufficient number of submissions for EU funding.

Mr Elliott took the chair after the session with the ministers had concluded, commenting that he had been to a funeral.

Following an evidence session with representatives of the Ilex Urban Regeneration Company from Londonderry, the committee turned to the Armed Forces and Veterans Bill.

This private member's bill is designed to make greater provision for the support of the armed forces and their families.

The committee took a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. Sinn Féin members rejected every clause.

At the end of the session, the party's Martina Anderson said she would like to have it recorded that Sinn Féin was opposed to the bill, did not want to see the bill go to the house and that the committee's consideration of the bill had been a "waste of time".

OFMDFM committee membership


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