Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams welcomes extra money but warns it may well come at a price

By Noel McAdam

Gerry Adams has accused the DUP of giving the Conservatives a "blank cheque" for future spending cuts, dealing with the legacy of the Troubles and Brexit.

He also said: "We may be able to say 'well done, Arlene' when we have the Executive in place."

While welcoming the additional cash for Northern Ireland from the DUP deal to back the Tories in Government, the Sinn Fein leader warned there is a "price to be paid".

Mr Adams said his party was closely examining the DUP-Tory package.

"The difficulty is in the detail but any money coming in here given Tory austerity and cuts is a good thing. Let me acknowledge that," he said.

"But the other side of the deal is 'what's the price for keeping this Tory Government in power?'"

He said the Conservatives had "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," he added.

Mr Adams also invoked the words of Edward Carson to caution the DUP over its deal with the Conservatives, using the words of the unionist leader from 1920: "What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland in that political game that was to get the Conservative party into power".

The deadline for a new deal to restore Stormont is Thursday, and if negotiators miss it, they face the prospect of direct rule being reimposed from Westminster.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said it was now time for other parties to stop playing games.

Mr Eastwood said: "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."

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said there was a need to get down to serious business.

Mr Farry also said the single biggest economic difficulty facing Northern Ireland is uncertainty over our future relationship with the EU.

He said: "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."

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann said he had been told by Secretary of State James Brokenshire that the extra money would only come in to play if a new Executive is established.

He said Health Service waiting lists were spiralling out of control and schools did not know whether they had a budget for next year because of financial uncertainty. He added: "Sinn Fein has the blame to carry if this actually does not deliver for the people of Northern Ireland."

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