New Northern Ireland government calls for increased funding from London | World News

Feb 5, 2024



BELFAST: Northern Ireland’s new power-sharing executive called on the British government on Monday to boost its offer to ease the region’s strained budget beyond the 3.3 billion pounds ($4.2 billion) included in a deal to restore the devolved administration.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will meet political leaders in Belfast on Monday after convincing the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) last week to drop its two-year boycott of the regional assembly by easing post-Brexit trade frictions.
That paved the way for a new power-sharing coalition to be formed on Saturday, with Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill as first minister, a first for an Irish nationalist in a historic milestone for the British region.
“This morning the prime minister will meet executive ministers united in our determination to get the right long-term funding package agreed,” O’Neill said in a joint statement with the DUP’s new deputy first minister, Emma Little-Pengelly.
The new devolved government published a letter sent to Sunak on Monday that said the 3.3 billion pound package, while welcome, would only provide a short-term fix and did not provide the basis to deliver sustainable public services.
The British government offered the package in December after talks with all parties. London had refused to increase Northern Ireland’s 14.2 billion pound annual budget earlier last year, despite inflation reaching a multi-decade high.
That led to the biggest public sector strike in a generation last month, with workers angry at not receiving any increase in pay, unlike colleagues in the rest of the United Kingdom.
Northern Ireland’s ministers said the 584 millions pounds set aside for pay fell short of the “known pressures” of 690 million pounds and that the rest of the package was also below the long-term level of need to deliver public services.
Britain’s Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the package was “a fair and generous” offer but did not rule out the new administration potentially negotiating an increase.
“Now we will have ministers for finance and for the economy, who will be able to talk directly to their counterparts in His Majesty’s Treasury, and if there’s data to prove otherwise I’m quite sure they’ll find a listening ear,” Heaton-Harris told BBC Radio.



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