DUP MP Sammy Wilson has claimed power-sharing would have collapsed regardless of the RHI fiasco because Sinn Féin became shy of taking hard budget decisions after it lost votes to smaller left-wing parties in Derry and Belfast three years ago.
The former Stormont Finance Minister made the claim during a recent debate in the House of Commons on the Northern Ireland Budget (Anticipation and Adjustments) (No. 2) Bill.
“The real reason why Sinn Féin are not prepared to enter the Assembly is that they do not have the political courage to make the decisions that a budget of this nature would require them to make,” claimed the East Antrim MP.
“There is plenty of evidence for that. First, why did the Assembly collapse? Despite what people say about the renewable heat scheme and everything else, the Assembly would have collapsed anyhow, because the then Finance Minister had not even presented a budget to the Assembly.
“If it had not been presented to the Assembly, the Government would have collapsed because there would have been no money to spend. Why did he not present a budget two and a half years ago? Because he knew that there were hard decisions to be made, and he was not prepared to make them,” he added.
He argued Sinn Féin was reticent about setting unpopular budgets because of the success of People Before Profit candidates in nationalist strongholds in Derry and Belfast in the Assembly elections of 2016.
“His party was not prepared to go through the lobby to back those decisions because it was looking over its shoulder at People Before Profit, which had taken votes off it in its heartlands in West Belfast and Londonderry.”