Sinn Féin to blame for delay in £1bn windfall for north, says Jeffrey Donaldson
THE DUP signatory to the 'confidence and supply' deal with the Tories has blamed Sinn Féin for delaying the £1 billion windfall for the north's cash-strapped public services.
Today marks 100 days from the signing of the agreement that sees the DUP's 10 MPs support Theresa May's minority government in Westminster.
The deal was signed more than two weeks after the snap general election in which the Conservatives lost their Westminster majority.
The result meant Mrs May's government relies on DUP support in key votes.
But despite a promise of £1 billion of new money to spend on education, health and infrastructure in the north, not a single penny has yet been delivered.
Initially, it was claimed the cash was not conditional on the restoration of an executive, but in recent weeks it has become clear that the funds will not be released until the talks aimed at restoring power-sharing have concluded – with or without agreement.
Speaking to The Irish News yesterday, DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said questions about when the money would be available should be addressed to Sinn Féin.
"The money was agreed for the Northern Ireland Executive and we haven't had an executive in the last 100 days," he said.
"Until Sinn Féin are prepared to form an executive the money can't be transferred across – unless we have direct rule."
He said he expected Secretary of State James Brokenshire to bring forward a budget later this month if the executive has not been restored.
"This will include the first tranche of this money in the absence of the executive," he said.
"Our expectation is that that will happen and happen soon."
Sir Jeffrey would not be drawn on a cut-off date for the restoration of an executive.
A Downing Street spokesman would not comment on when the money would be available and would only say that the British government had a "clear and resolute focus on restoring devolved government".
SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon claimed the deal had been exposed as a "farcical game of power play".
"The DUP thought they had one up on Sinn Féin when this deal was announced, while the Tories, by controlling the release of any money, have one up on both the DUP and Sinn Féin.
"While they all play games, not a single penny has found its way into our public services which have existed on the verge of crisis since well before the deal was struck."