Low-paid civil servants in the North could be in line to receive £100m (€126m) in back pay under plans by Finance Minister Peter Robinson.
Mr Robinson says he is determined to resolve historic problems relating to unequal pay.
An estimated 9,000 civil servants, most of them Catholic or female, are due the back pay because of recent rulings on equality.
Mr Robinson says he has asked officials in his department to begin working with the trade unions to resolve the problem.
He says there may be serious financial implications, but he is not prepared to follow others and simply put it on the back burner.