Sinn Féin has announced it will conditionally back Finance Minister Arlene Foster's new budget bill at Stormont.
IN a statement last night, Deputy First Minister Martin Mc Guinness said the support would be conditional, with a view to preventing the possible collapse of the assembly.
The second stage of the Budget Bill was debated by MLAs last evening, but a vote has been delayed until later in the week.
The SDLP said they cannot support the budget bill "in its present form" but would not vote against it.
In a statemwent last night, Martin Mc Guinness says there remains a fundamental challenge for the Executive around welfare protections. Howeverm he added, while that challenge is explored, other important elements of the Stormont House Agreement should proceed.
He added this budget bill does not involve any reduction in social security support for the most vulnerable.
Any further budget cuts will dramatically impact on front line services, on the economy and on society, Mr Mc Guinness concluded, and that is neither sustainable nor acceptable.
Sinn Fein says this conditional support for the budget bill will create space within which issues threatening the future of the assembly can hopefully be resolved.
SF statement in full -
Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said supporting the Budget Bill will create the space to resolve the current difficulties facing the Executive.
Mr McGuinness said;
"Sinn Féin will support the current budget Bill to create the space to resolve out-standing issues and ensure the Executive has workable and sustainable finances and the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.
"We need to ensure that the Executive has the resources to continue to build a peaceful, inclusive and tolerant society.
"There remains a fundamental challenge for the Executive around welfare protections. But while we explore a way forward on this issue, the other important elements of the Stormont House Agreement, including the essential legacy mechanisms, should and must proceed.
"This budget bill does not involve any reduction in social security support for the most vulnerable in our society. And it does not contain any in year reductions as a consequence of the £25 billion of further cuts announced by the Tories.
"Any further cut to our budget will dramatically impact on front line services, on our economy and on our society. That is not sustainable and it is a scenario that is not acceptable to Sinn Fein."