UK to set N.Ireland budget in absence of devolved government

British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris walks outside Number 10 Downing Street, on the day of a cabinet meeting, in London, Britain, October 26, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo

LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The British government said on Thursday it would set the 2022/23 budget for Northern Ireland in the absence of a functioning devolved government.

"We recognise the public in Northern Ireland must be protected in future by bringing the public finances under control so it is with significant regret that I am now setting a Northern Ireland Budget," the British government's Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said in a statement.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning devolved government or executive since February, when the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party began a boycott of the regional assembly in protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements known as the Northern Ireland protocol.

"I have a clear message to the parties - if they disagree with my budget, they should restore the executive to consider and revise the departmental position I have set out," Heaton-Harris said.

The British government earlier this month pushed back a deadline to hold a new election in Northern Ireland until at least March to provide space for progress in talks with the European Union on the Northern Ireland protocol.

Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar and Farouq Suleiman, Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Elizabeth Piper

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