British Tory Party leader David Cameron has called for public spending in Northern Ireland to be slashed. His comments have suddenly pushed Northern Ireland to the forefront of the British election campaign.
"In Northern Ireland it is quite clear – and almost every party accepts this –that the size of the state has got too big," Cameron told interviewer Jeremy Paxman on BBC1.
Referring to Northern Ireland he stated, "In some parts of the country the state accounts for a bigger share of the economy than it did in the communist countries in the old eastern bloc. This is clearly unsustainable.""
“We need a bigger private sector. There are other parts of the country, including in the northeast. The aim has got to be to get the private sector, to get the commercial sector going.
"Over the next parliament we have got to see a faster growing private sector, we've got to broaden our economic base and we need to have a rebalancing of the economy between the commercial and private sector on the one hand and between the state sector on the other."
Northern Ireland contributes only 2 percent to the British economy, while successive British governments pump in up to $10 billion a year in central funding. Up to 60 per cent of jobs there are directly or indirectly funded by the state.
T, Cameron told Paxman last night: "I do think some programs in government have got out of control. There are things that government does, like ID cards like some of the IT schemes, that I think government shouldn't do. I would like to see those reduced."
But he insisted that he was not relishing cuts. "You can't make this into some sort of ideological crusade. The crusade I have is to make our society bigger, richer and stronger," he said.