Northern Ireland news

DUP-Tory deal 'to include £1 billion for north over next two years'

Sam Lister and Shaun Connolly, Press Association

British Prime Minister Theresa May stands with First Secretary of State Damian Green (right), DUP leader Arlene Foster (second left), DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds (left), as DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (third right) shakes hands with Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, and Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson, inside 10 Downing Street, London, after the DUP agreed a deal to support the minority Conservative government 

The DUP has backed a deal to support the minority Conservative government that includes a £1.5 billion funding package for Northern Ireland.

The money will be used to boost the local economy and invest in new infrastructure, health, education and other sectors, DUP leader Arlene Foster said.

She added that the funding would "address the unique circumstances" of the north and the impact on its people.

Full text of agreement between the DUP and Conservative Party
Full details of financial support for the north
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UK-wide, the pensions triple lock will also stay in place and there will be no means-testing of winter payments, under the arrangement.

After talks at No 10 between Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster, the pair hailed the agreement between the two parties.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds (left) and MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson outside 10 Downing Street in London after the party agreed a deal to support the minority Conservative government 

Mrs Foster said she was "delighted" an arrangement had been agreed.

The Prime Minister said the DUP and the Tories "share many values" and the agreement was "a very good one".

Read Arlene Foster's remarks at Downing Street in full

The agreement was signed by Tory chief whip Gavin Williamson and the DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson while Mrs May and Mrs Foster, along with Damian Green and Nigel Dodds, watched on.

Speaking in No 10, Mrs May said: "As we set out at the beginning of the talks, we share many values in terms of wanting to see prosperity across the UK, the value of the union, the important bond between the different parts of the United Kingdom.

"We very much want to see that protected and enhanced and we also share the desire to ensure a strong government, able to put through its programme and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations, but also national security issues.

"So the agreement we have come to is a very, very good one, and look forward to working with you."

British Prime Minister Theresa May sits with First Secretary of State Damian Green (left), and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, and Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson (third left) as they talk with DUP leader Arlene Foster (second right), DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds (third right), and DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson inside 10 Downing Street, London. The DUP has agreed a deal to support the minority Conservative government 

Ms Foster said: "We're delighted that we have reached this agreement, which I think works, obviously, for national stability.

"In terms of the Northern Ireland Executive, of course we are determined to see it back in place as soon as possible as well, because we believe we need a strong voice for Northern Ireland when dealing not least with the Brexit issue."

In a statement, Mrs May said the deal reached with the DUP was a "confidence and supply agreement", under which the Northern Irish party undertakes to support the Conservative Government on votes on the Queen's Speech, the Budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security.

"The agreement makes clear that we remain steadfast to our commitments as set out in the Belfast Agreement and its successors, and in governing in the interests of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland," said Mrs May.

"I welcome this agreement, which will enable us to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom, give us the certainty we require as we embark on our departure from the European Union, and help us build a stronger and fairer society at home."

Turning to the situation in Northern Ireland, Ms May added: "Time is running short for the parties to come together and reach agreement to re-establish a powersharing Executive by June 29.

"I hope the parties will look beyond their differences and come together with a shared sense of common purpose to serve all communities in the best interests of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland needs a functioning devolved government at this important time.

"Her Majesty's Government will continue to do everything we can to work with the parties in Northern Ireland, alongside the Irish Government, to bring back a strong voice at Stormont for a positive future for everyone in Northern Ireland."

DUP leader Arlene Foster speaks to the media while DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson look on outside 10 Downing Street in London after the party agreed a deal to support the minority Conservative government 

The DUP and Conservatives have also agreed that a Nato commitment to spending 2% of GDP on the armed forces will be adhered to, and that the Armed Forces' covenant will be fully implemented in Northern Ireland.

"Our aim in these negotiations has been to deliver for all of the people of Northern Ireland," Mrs Foster said.

"And the support measures which we are announcing will be to the benefit of all our people."

The DUP leader said the financial support would be made up of £1bn in new funding over the coming two years, as well as "new flexibility" in almost £500m already committed to the region.

Mrs Foster said she would return to the north for talks aimed at restoring a powersharing executive in Stormont, that was collapsed by Sinn Féin earlier this year amid a growing rift between the party and the DUP.

Both sides have until the end of the week to do a deal.

"Now, more than ever, our political leaders both locally and nationally need to work together to find solutions for all of the people we serve," added Mrs Foster.

The agreement restates the British government's support for the Good Friday Agreement and the restoration of devolved government in the north.

And it seeks to allay concerns over the British government's neutrality in negotiations, by saying that the DUP will have "no involvement in the UK Government's role in political talks in Northern Ireland".

Under the terms of the agreement, the British government has agreed to guarantee that cash support for Northern Irish farming will continue at the same level until the end of the Parliament in 2022, as the UK goes through Brexit.

The document signed by Mr Williamson and Sir Jeffrey says that the DUP's support in votes which are not covered by the supply and confidence agreement will be agreed "on a case-by-case basis".

The agreement will "remain in place for the length of the Parliament and can be reviewed by the mutual consent of both parties", the document says.

After each parliamentary session, the Conservatives and DUP will review the aims, principles and implementation of the agreement.

A co-ordination committee, chaired by a British government minister, is to be set up to oversee working arrangements between the two parties.

Reacting to today's announcement, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said: “The price of today’s DUP-Tory deal is DUP support for continued Tory Austerity and cuts to public services.

“It provides a blank cheque for a Tory Brexit which threatens the Good Friday Agreement."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "The Tories may have bought the DUP but we will continue to be vocal opponents of the hard Brexit juggernaut that is barrelling down the line.

"People in Northern Ireland voted to defend our position in Europe, we will not quietly acquiesce to a Tory Brexit."

He said no element of the deal can override the principles of the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland.

"Any position which attempts to wrestle power back from a local Executive will be opposed in the strongest possible terms.

"The DUP must be prepared to work constructively with parties over the coming days to restore powersharing. That is the only game in town now."

Alliance North Down MLA Stephen Farry said: “Any additional resources for Northern Ireland must be welcomed, particularly in the short-term. But while we must be mindful of the detail and implications of what has been made public today, we must also be vigilant around any side deals which may have also been struck.

“Any extra money cannot be simply used to plug the financial gaps we have. Instead this windfall must be used to drive reform of public services to make them more sustainable. However, the mention of previously agreed funding for shared education and housing to be dispersed flexibly is not a good sign.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew said: “This is a deal dominated by tax breaks for big business and so is a missed opportunity to put people first by prioritising public service spending.

“Any money allocated to health and education could be undone by the reduction in corporation tax, which would cost around £200 million.  

“Our schools and hospitals are under great pressure - Westminster deals will matter little if the Stormont stalemate isn’t resolved.” 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the deal was "not in the national interest".

"Austerity has failed," he said. "Cuts to vital public services must be halted right across the UK, not just in Northern Ireland.

"The government must immediately answer two questions: Where is the money for the Tory-DUP deal coming from? And, will all parts of the UK receive the much-needed additional funding that Northern Ireland will get as part of the deal?

"This Tory-DUP deal is clearly not in the national interest but in May's party's interest to help her cling to power."

Dublin's foreign minister Simon Coveney said: "The content of the confidence and supply agreement between the Conservative Party and the DUP is primarily a matter for those two parties.

"I note that the agreement provides for DUP support for British Government legislation on Brexit. An enhanced Northern Ireland voice articulating an agreed devolved government position could see more effective and inclusive representation of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland at Westminster.

"Inevitably, some of the policy agreement between both parties reflects their long-held views. However, I welcome both parties' recommitment to the Good Friday Agreement and its successors, and the commitment by the British Government to govern in the interests of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland."

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