Eastwood presses Sunak on ‘public sector rescue’ package for waiting lists and pay

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Colum Eastwood has urged Rishi Sunak to bring forward a ‘public sector rescue package’ to ease health waiting lists on which a quarter of the population of the North find themselves.

The SDLP leader also asked the British Prime Minister to tell the DUP to ‘get back to work’.

"One quarter of the population of NI are on a health waiting list, our workers are on strike for fair pay, and our public finances are in a mess,” said the Foyle MP in the British House of Commons on Wednesday.

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“Will he give a commitment that the Treasury will immediately begin work on a public sector rescue package so we can transform the health service and ensure that our public sector workers are given a decent wage?

Colum Eastwood during Prime Minister's questions on Wednesday.Colum Eastwood during Prime Minister's questions on Wednesday.
Colum Eastwood during Prime Minister's questions on Wednesday.

“And will he join with the people of NI, Mr. Speaker, in telling the DUP to get back to work now?” he asked.

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Mr. Sunak replied: “I firmly believe that NI is governed best when governed locally and I agree wholeheartedly with him that the major challenges that he raises can only be properly addressed by the restoration of the institutions.

“But I also understand the immediate and pressing concerns he raises and that's why we have prioritised health in the NI budget for this year with £20m of more funding and I know my honourable friend will be an important contributor to the conversation that the Secretary of State [Chris Heaton-Harris] is having to embark on public service reform and restore the Executive.”