Belfast Telegraph

£1bn secured by DUP is 'sitting and waiting to be spent', Westminster officials say

By Jonathan Bell

The £1billion secured by the DUP for the Northern Ireland government is sitting and waiting to be spent, Westminster officials have confirmed.

Treasury officials have also said the UK Government will "not sign off projects".

There has been confusion over how the money, secured by the DUP for infrastructure, health and eduction and other projects, will be allocated.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire hinted the allocation of the money was subject to the restoration of the devolved institutions.

However, the DUP said the condition was not in the confidence and supply deal which they agreed with Theresa May in return for propping up her minority government.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has said that if direct rule was imposed his party would be in a "major position" to determine where the funds went.

The Northern Ireland Office has been asked for comment, but did not respond.

Prime Minister Theresa May's office also did not respond to the Belfast Telegraph.

However, the Treasury said the money was available and ready to be spent by the Northern Ireland Executive.

"It is therefore imperative that we focus all our efforts on securing the return of a power-sharing Executive, so that local politicians can decide how best to allocate these resources to serve all people in Northern Ireland," an official said.

"The UK Government will work with the Executive on how this is implemented, with the final arrangements agreed between the Treasury and Department of Finance.

"Executive spending will be scrutinised by the Assembly in the normal way. The UK Government will not sign off projects."

Mr Wilson accused Brokenshire of being unable to "give a straight answer" on how the money would be dished out.

"I'd prefer the assembly would have input," he said, "but if that's not going to happen then why can't he just say it rather than trying to speak out of both sides of his mouth?"

A spokesman for the Conservative Party added: "Both the Conservative Party and the DUP are committed to getting the Executive re-established because we both believe that decisions about funding for different public services in Northern Ireland should be taken by politicians in Northern Ireland. We want the additional funding identified in this agreement to go to a new Executive.

 "However, if despite our collective efforts it proves impossible to re-establish the Executive, the Conservative Party, in signing this agreement, has recognised the case for the higher funding Northern Ireland needs."

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