Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein Stormont shortfall plan 'can save £1.9bn'

Sinn Fein has put forward a £1.9bn package of savings and revenue-generating ideas to plug the projected gap in the Executive's finances.

The measures include taxing mobile phone operators £2,000 a month for each mast to raise £160m over four years.

It wants the four Northern Ireland banks to loan £400m for a development bond and would give the Housing Executive the power to borrow £250m.

The party suggests politicians take a voluntary 15% wage cut.

Reforms

The measures, outlined during a news conference at Stormont on Thursday, mark a move away from Sinn Fein's prior emphasis on resisting British government cuts.

Sinn Fein also argues that completing reforms to local government and education could generate hundreds of millions of pounds in savings.

However, the party is still ruling out raising income by levying water charges.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said local parties were united in their determination to hold the coalition government to honouring commitments made by the previous Labour administration.

"What we have done is put forward proposals in a positive and constructive way, knowing there will be other proposals to come hopefully from other parties," he said.

"This will allow finance representatives from each party to sit down collectively and do a bit of blue-sky thinking, a bit of outside the box thinking.

"We can apply a bit of imagination to where we are and to see how we can come up with solutions to move the process forward in a way which delivers for all our people, not just for our own individual constituencies."

DUP leader Peter Robinson said there may be room for some agreement.

"They have obviously put some thought into this document," said the first minister.

"There are aspects which in my view are completely off the wall, but there are other aspects which are in common with things we have been talking about.

"I think there are issues worth considering and having further discussion about."