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It’s a billion versus Brexit

One happy family. After the deal was struck in Downing Street.

 

By Anthony Neeson

The North’s Democratic Unionist Party’s deal with the Conservative Party, reached during talks in Downing Street, will see the DUP prop up the Tory government for the next five years.

That’s if the combined Conservative/DUP vote tally at Westminster can maintain its razor thin majority in the House of Commons.

The deal includes an extra £1 billion in public spending for Northern Ireland over two years.

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The “confidence and supply” deal will see the DUP’s ten MPs support the Theresa May-led government on Brexit, the budget and national security.

Leaving Downing Street on Monday, DUP leader Arlene Foster said the extra money should make a deal between her party and Sinn Féin to reestablish the executive at Stormont more likely.

Sinn Féin, however, are still insistent that Foster cannot return as first minister as an inquiry into the RHI heating scandal is currently underway.

Most of the new money for Northern Ireland will go into infrastructure projects as well as health and education.

Mrs. Foster said the agreement would “boost the economy and invest in new infrastructure as well as investing in the future of our health and education sectors.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose miscalculation in calling a snap election earlier this month has led to the alliance between the Conservatives and the DUP, said: “I welcome this agreement which will enable us to work together in the interest 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. In the interests of transparency, the full terms of this agreement have been published.”

May said the DUP and the Tories "share many values" and the agreement was "a very good one.”

Speaking about the talks that are now taking place in Belfast, she added: “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 (the deadline is Thursday, June 29) for a positive future for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

However, reaction among other North parties was focused more on Brexit than the Downing Street billion.

Sinn Féin president 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 check 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 barreling down the line.

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

 

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