Belfast Telegraph

£1bn DUP cash will be spent with or without Executive: Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

By Jonathan Bell

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said the money secured by the DUP as part of the deal to prop up Theresa May's government will be spent, whether or not a Northern Ireland Executive is in place.

Confusion has reigned over the conditions attached to the £1bn deal which is to go toward the health service, schools and roads. Secretary of State James Brokenshire suggested the money may only be available should there be an Executive, however, the DUP have said that was not a condition of the deal they signed.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, the Tory party implied that the restoration of devolved institutions is not a precondition for the funding.

Speaking on Friday, the DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who signed the deal between the two parties, said the money would be spent regardless.

"Let me be crystal clear," he said, "If there is no executive the money will be spent and it will be spent from Westminster."

He said that given his party, alongside the independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon, were the only representatives in the House of Commons for Northern Ireland, would "obviously have an influence".

He said the agreement provided for a consultative committee to be formed to work out how the money would be spent.

"We are heading for direct rule," he added, "but we can't hang around forever and if an Executive is not formed in the summer, the secretary of state will have to act.

"The place [the money] should be dealt with is in the Executive as it will give all the parties a say, but the DUP will ensure it is delivered."

Before his suggestion the money may be delivered on condition of the Executive's restoration, James Brokenshire did tell the Commons further steps would be taken to provide the "necessary political decision-making in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland".

" I reaffirm that the UK Government remains prepared to take forward legislation at Westminster to give authority for the expenditure of Northern Ireland departments should an Executive not be restored," he said.

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