DUP hints at deal with Tories to improve treatment of veterans in Northern Ireland
The DUP has hinted that improvement to the treatment of military veterans in Northern Ireland is close to being agreed as part of the party's support for the Conservatives.
The military covenant was introduced in Britain in 2000 and is a UK government promise to look after former members of the armed forces and their families.
Even though the covenant has no basis in law and is an informal understanding rather than a legally enforceable deal, armed forces veterans are entitled to priority medical treatment.
Veterans have complained that the Military Covenant is not fully implemented in Northern Ireland.
DUP MP Ian Paisley jnr tweeted a screenshot of the DUP's pledge to support a change in the Covenant along with the word: "Progress!!"
Progress !! pic.twitter.com/zJ9s5vw8mu— Ian Paisley MP (@ianpaisleymp) June 22, 2017
The Westminster government, according to the BBC, has now agreed to ensure that all the provisions of the covenant are implemented in Northern Ireland in the same way as other parts of the UK.
It remains to be seen how Westminster could overrule the north's Assembly on an issue that was previously devolved.
Sinn Féin and the SDLP have opposed its introduction in the north.
Former Sein Féin MLA Daithí McKay said taht if a deal has been done on the military covenant then it would out at risk the Good Friday Agreement.
Negotiations with the Tories began after Prime Minister Theresa May's party failed to win an outright majority in the general election and needed DUP support for a minority government.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said this morning the chances of reaching a deal with the Conservatives to prop up Theresa May's minority government are "very good".
The DUP chief whip at Westminster confirmed the party was seeking extra funding for Northern Ireland as part of the agreement.
However, he denied reports it was seeking £1 billion for the health service with a further £1 billion of infrastructure.
"The figures that are being bandied about are way wide of the mark," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.