Northern Ireland

First and deputy first ministers to meet chancellor

Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers are due to meet the Chancellor George Osborne in London on Tuesday.

The discussion will focus on the local economy and the probable impact of the chancellor's spending review.

The security situation in Northern Ireland is also likely to be discussed.

The chancellor is expected to introduce severe cuts to public spending on 20 October.

The Northern Ireland economy's heavy dependence on the public sector makes it particularly vulnerable to the spending review.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have taken contrasting attitudes towards the impending belt-tightening.

DUP Finance Minister Sammy Wilson predicted the local budget could lose £2bn over the next four years and called for contingency plans to be put in place.

Sinn Fein argued that the cuts should be resisted as part of a negotiation with the Treasury.

The recent warning from MI5 about dissident republicans seeking to attack the UK mainland may bolster the case that the security budget needs adequate resourcing.

However Martin McGuinness insisted the discussion would focus on the economy, not the MI5 warning.