The week outside Westminster

The very latest from the devolved bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including reaction to the Coalition Government's £6 billion of cuts.

Northern Ireland

• The head of the Orange Order called for a single, united unionist party, saying“There is a huge grounds-well of opinion that there must be a drive towards unionist unity or at the very least better joined-up thinking between unionists.” However, Ulster Unionist Partyl MLA Tom Elliott urged the Order to stay out of politics.

• John Larkin QC was appointed Northern Ireland’s first Attorney General for 40 years; he said: “I am grateful for having been given such an historic opportunity to contribute to the rule of law and the good government of Northern Ireland, and I look forward to meeting the challenges of this Office.”

• Finance minister Sammy Wilson’s pragmatic response to this week’s ConDem cuts was simple: “We knew it was coming down the line.”

• SDLP MLA for North Antrim, Declan O’Loan, called for a single united nationalist party, before being forced to back down by his party.

• Martin McGuiness called for ministers at Stormont to take a 5% pay cut as UUP Health Minister Martin McGimpsey warned: “If I’m faced with further cuts the reality is that will eat very much into the frontline services.”

• UUP MLA Basil McCrea told leader Sir Reg Empey it was time to go now for the good of the Party.

• The new Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, confirmed that Lord Saville’s inquiry into Bloody Sunday will be published on June 15.

Scotland

• Ministers will be given greater responsibilities for representing the UK in Europe under Tory plans to “woo” Scotland.

• Iain Gray confirmed that Gordon Brown would be helping with next year’s elections to Holyrood, as he declared that Alex Salmond was “tired and out of ideas”.

• Former Tory Scottish secretary, Lord Forsyth, branded his party as being “marginal” north of the border.

• The Scottish National Party opposition at Westminster looked set to ditch plans in the Scotland Bill to give Holyrood tax varying powers as set out by the Calman Commission.

Alex Salmond defended his Government’s decision not to begin cutting until next year. “Implementing the cuts this year doesn’t protect you from cuts the following year,” he told the BBC.

• Finance Secretary, John Swinney said of the UK Government’s cuts: “The spending cuts outlined by the Treasury risk undermining recovery and damaging our comprehensive work to support the Scottish economy.”

• Responding to the Queen’s speech announcement that Holyrood will gain more power, the SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, concluded: “Some of the ideas contained within it have potential to deliver improved economic decision making for Scotland.”

Wales

• Former Labour leader and MP for Islywn, Neil Kinnock, came out to support Ed Miliband’s bid for Labour’s top job. “I would say he has got the X-Factor, especially where the X is the sign you put on the voting slip at election time,” he told the Observer.

• Plaid Cymru attacked the UK Government for its failure to consult the Welsh Assembly Government over its decision to abolish Home Information Packs.

• Of this week’s cuts, budget minister Jane Hutt said: “Making unplanned cuts in spending this year would be bad for Wales.” She spoke as it  emerged that Wales would be the hardest hit.

• David Cameron caused anger as he announced a vote on extra powers for Wales would not take place until next year. The Assembly Government declared its disappointment.

• In blunt comments, education minister Leighton Andrews concluded: “For too many in Wales, higher education remains a distant, and irrelevant activity, clouded in mystery.”

Quote of the Week

“It’s become clear that Wales and what is best for Welsh communities is not a priority for the ConDem government.”

Plaid Cymru’s Deputy Leader at Cardiff Bay, Helen Mary Jones, the UK Government

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