Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Sammy Wilson calls for 'straight answer' from Brokenshire over allocation of £1bn secured in Conservative deal

By Claire Williamson

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has called for Northern Ireland's Secretary of State James Brokenshire to "give a straight answer" about how money secured through their deal with the Conservatives will be spent.

The DUP secured £1bn in extra spending in exchange for propping up Theresa May's minority government in a confidence and supply deal.

Mr Brokenshire suggested this week that the allocation of the money was subject to Stormont being restored - the DUP has said this was not the case.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson accused Mr Brokenshire of not being able to "give a straight answer".

He said it was made clear to his party that the money was available as long as the DUP supported the government at Westminster.

He told BBC Newsline: "As long as we do that, the money is there.

"If the assembly isn't up and running, then assembly members will not have a decision on how it is spent, it will be direct rule ministers.

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

On Wednesday Mr Brokenshire allocated an extra £90 million to health and education services in Northern Ireland.

School principals had faced making "impossible" budget cuts while funds covering NHS nurse training have been under pressure and doctors have threatened to leave the public system due to problems with GP care.

The total of extra money is worth £131 million for everyday services as well as capital infrastructure expenditure. That compares to an overall spending package worth more than £10 billion.

It includes money carried forward from last year's budget and an increase in rates income, the tax paid by property owners, plus a reduction in welfare reform costs.

On Wednesday Mr Brokenshire said: "This Government recognises the unique challenges faced by Northern Ireland as a result of its distinct history and geographical position.

"However, a restored Executive will need to agree how it wishes to allocate these funds to projects within the priority areas."

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