Belfast Telegraph

Adams welcomes extra money but slams DUP deal as 'blank cheque for Tory Brexit'

Powersharing at Stormont is the only fair way to distribute money from the DUP's deal with the Conservatives, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said.

It comes after the DUP agreed a package, which includes £1bn of new funding for infrastructure and health spending, along with enhanced flexibility on almost £500m of previously allocated cash, to support Theresa May's minority Conservative government.

The Prime Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster hailed the agreement between the two parties after they finalised the deal on Monday morning at Downing Street.

Under a "supply and confidence" arrangement intended to last for the full Parliament, the DUP guarantees that its 10 MPs will vote with the Government on the Queen's Speech, the Budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security.

The DUP's support in votes which are not covered by the confidence and supply arrangements will be agreed "on a case-by-case basis".

The Prime Minister said the DUP and the Tories "share many values" and the agreement was "a very good one" and that she looked forward to working with them.

Reacting, Mr Adams said while the deal's additional funds could help "ease the enormous pressure our public services", he said that the "devil is in the detail".

Mr Adams said there is now a "limited time" to get a deal to restore Stormont's power-sharing Executive.

"The only fair way to get whatever resources come to this place, the only forum or the only decision-making body that can do it in a fair way is the Executive," he told reporters at Stormont Castle.

We may be able to say well done Arlene, when we have the Executive in place. Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein

In a lengthy statement released earlier Mr Adams said: "The price of today’s DUP-Tory deal is DUP support for continued Tory Austerity and cuts to public services."

“The DUP have agreed to support the Tory Government on all motions of confidence; and on the Queen’s speech; the Budget; finance bills; money bills, supply and appropriation legislation and estimates and all legislation pertaining to British national security and Brexit.

“The Tory government has slashed more than £1bn from the block grant over the last seven years.

“The allocation of additional funds could help to ease the enormous pressure on our public services. The devil is in the detail."

It provides a blank cheque for a Tory Brexit which threatens the Good Friday Agreement. Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein

Mr Adams continued: "Sinn Fein will continue to prioritise the establishment of a credible, sustainable Executive which deals with all the challenges facing our society, including the failure to implement previous agreements."

Mr Adams added: “Sinn Fein will vigorously pursue the rights of citizens currently being denied by the DUP and the British government.

“We are committed to equality. Sinn Fein will resolutely oppose any attempt to give preferential treatment to British forces, either in terms of legacy or the provision of public services."

He added: “If as they claim in today’s agreement, both the Tories and the DUP will fully adhere fully to the Good Friday Agreement and its successors, they need to deliver on this for the political institutions can be restored."

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the agreement was "good" for the "people of Northern Ireland", as well as those in the United Kingdom.

"In particular the money for mental health and in terms of hard to reach areas all of the money that has been outlined is for every section of the community in Northern Ireland.

"This is a deal that delivers for all of the people of Northern Ireland."

We look forward to working with the Government over the course of the next five years to deliver a strengthened union of the United Kingdom, to deliver Brexit, to deliver prosperity to all parts of the United Kingdom and most of all to protect and defend our country at home and abroad. Nigel Dodds, DUP

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said that, while additional money for Northern Ireland must be welcomed, it is "important the DUP-Conservative deal does not become a missed opportunity".

He 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. Stephen Farry, Alliance

"However, the mention of previously agreed funding for shared education and housing to be dispersed flexibly is not a good sign," Mr Farry added.

“In terms of our economy, it must be recognised the single biggest economic difficulty facing Northern Ireland is uncertainty over our future relationship with the EU. In particular, our doubtful future participation in both the customs union and single market means commitments around corporation tax and air passenger duty can only have a limited benefit unless the deeper issue is satisfactorily resolved.

“The deal makes clear there will be ongoing ‘co-ordination’ meetings between the DUP and Conservatives. That does raise inevitable political implications, especially as the DUP are committed to delivering the narrow Tory version of Brexit. That will now make the obtainment of a special deal for Northern Ireland more difficult.”

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA said the focus now has to be on getting Stormont's Executive back up and running.

What’s critical now is that we have an Executive to prioritise areas of spend to ensure this resource is targeted at areas of need, not the parochial priorities of one political party. Colum Eastwood, SDLP

"The document outlines projects like the York Street interchange," Mr Eastwood said. "But the regional priorities must be building the A5 and the A6, using city deals to further the expansion of Ulster University at Magee and bespoke investment across the North and an immediate end to regional investment disparities.

“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.

“No element of this deal can override the principles or the practice of our hard won devolution settlement. 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 power sharing. That is the only game in town now.”

The UUP has welcomed funding for the York Street Interchange and other infrastructure projects, along with increased spending in mental health.

Ulster Unionist Chief Whip, Steve Aiken MLA, said: “It would be churlish not to welcome extra spending in Northern Ireland as part of this deal.”

He added: “We need to see effective management of the funding to ensure the money is spent on time and that the public can have confidence in how it is being distributed. We need locally accountable ministers in place to make best use of the provisions made in the Tory-DUP deal.

"It's now over to Sinn Fein. They've seen the detail of the Tory-DUP deal, they now need to knuckle down and strike a deal with their DUP counterparts. Time is running out.”

On the Armed Forces Covenant we need to see delivery mechanisms put in place to support our veterans and we look forward to seeing more meat on the bones of these proposals. Steve Aiken, UUP

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