Belfast Telegraph

Details of Stormont deal: What the parties finally agreed

Yesterday's settlement may not have been as comprehensive as many would have liked, but it did address some key issues. These are the main points...

Finance

The deal promises Stormont additional spending power of almost £2bn.

A final budget for 2015-16 must be agreed in January. The Executive will then begin a comprehensive programme of public sector reform and restructuring.

This will include measures to address the cost of managing a divided society, reducing salary costs including the reduction in the size of the Civil Service and wider public sector. Legislation will be brought before the Assembly next month to give effect to welfare changes. Implementation of these welfare changes will begin to take place in the financial year 2015-16 and implementation will be complete by 2016-17.

Legislation will be introduced to enable the devolution of corporation tax in April 2017. Executive departments will have to consider how to realise the value of their assets through reform or restructuring to generate income and longer-term savings.

The Executive will examine whether devolution of a range of taxes could result in any clear economic or social benefit for Northern Ireland.

The past

By 2016 the Executive will establish an Oral History Archive to provide a central place for people from all backgrounds (and from throughout the UK and Ireland) to share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles. As well as collecting new material, this archive will attempt to draw together and work with existing oral projects.

A research project led by academics will be established as part of the archive to produce a factual historical timeline and statistical analysis of the Trouble. It will report within 12 months.

The Executive will take steps to ensure victims and survivors have access to high-quality services.

The Commission for Victims and Survivors' recommendation for a comprehensive Mental Trauma Service will be implemented.

Further work will be undertaken to seek an acceptable way forward on the proposal for a pension for severely physically injured victims in Northern Ireland.

Legislation will establish a new independent body - the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) - to take forward investigations into outstanding Troubles-related deaths .

Legacy inquests will continue as a separate process to the HIU. The HIU will consider all cases in respect of which the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and the Police Ombudsman have not completed their work, including HET cases which have already been identified as requiring re-examination. The HIU should aim to complete its work within five years.

A new body will be established, called the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR). Its objective will be to enable victims and survivors to seek and privately receive information about the deaths of their next-of-kin.

The ICIR will run for no longer than five years and will be led by five members. The ICIR will not disclose information provided to it to law enforcement or intelligence agencies and this information will be inadmissible in criminal and civil proceedings. It will not disclose the identities of people who provide information.

An Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG) will be established to oversee themes, archives and information recovery. The body will have 11 members and publicly elected representatives will not be eligible for appointment.

Assembly reform

The number of Assembly members should be reduced to five members per constituency or such other reduction as may be agreed in time for the 2021 Assembly election.

The threshold for Petitions of Concern should remain at 30 members. Changes will be made to the mechanism though a protocol agreed between the parties.

Arrangements will be put in place by the Assembly by next March to enable those parties which would be entitled to ministerial positions in the Executive, but choose not to take them up, to be recognised as an official Opposition and to facilitate their work.

A reduction in the number of departments from 12 to nine should be made in time for the 2016 Assembly election, with the new allocation of departmental functions to be agreed by the parties.

A new process will be brought forward for a more transparent and robust system for members' salaries and expenses.

The UK Government also stands ready to consider potential further areas of devolution and changes to intergovernmental machinery, which are under discussion elsewhere in the UK and likely to command broad support among parties in Northern Ireland.

Parades

The Stormont House Agreement states that powers to take responsibility for parades and related protests should, in principle, be devolved to the Assembly.

The Office of the Legislative Counsel, working with the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), will provide a range of options on how key issues, including the Code of Conduct, criteria and accountability, could be addressed in legislation.

OFMDFM will bring proposals to the Executive by next June.

Legislation will focus on the rights of those involved in, or affected by, parades and protests. The aim will be to balance the competing rights of those involved and to recognise the responsibilities owed to others.

The system will address respect for law, those parading, protesters and residents.

It will also encourage and facilitate dialogue which the Agreement says "should be at the heart of any new regulatory system for parades and protests".

Flags

A Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition will be set up by June 2015.

It is to report within 18 months of it being established.

The commission is expected to be made up of 15 members, seven of which will be nominated by the leaders of the Executive parties.

They will include two members from the DUP and Sinn Fein, and one from the Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Alliance.

The remaining eight members will be drawn from outside government.

The report and recommendations will be agreed by a majority of the commission, including at least five of the seven members appointed by party leaders.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph