Government 'to honour investment'
The Government is set to keep a pledge to invest billions in Northern Ireland despite fears the cash may have been cut by Chancellor George Osborne, it has been claimed.
First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had said the Government was duty-bound to honour an £18 billion investment pledge by Gordon Brown during political talks in 2006.
Now trade union leaders who met Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson for talks said they had been told the coalition Government would uphold the investment promise, despite the cuts expected in its October 20 Spending Review.
A delegation of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), led by its deputy general secretary Peter Bunting, claimed Mr Paterson said half the £18 billion pledged by Mr Brown had been invested, and that the current Government was to proceed with investing the remaining £9.1 billion.
A Government source responding to the union claims later said: "In Northern Ireland we will have invested £9 billion by the end of 2010/11.
"The UK Government believes Northern Ireland is on course to invest £18 billion by 2017."
It is understood this follows guidance from the Treasury that it was still possible for the investment to proceed.
The investment package was aimed at infrastructural projects in Northern Ireland and was promised during the talks that led to the 2006 St Andrews political agreement.
The St Andrews deal paved the way for the formation of a powersharing government at Stormont led by the DUP and Sinn Fein.
As part of the plan, it was claimed that £18 billion would be invested in roads and other major schemes to make up for years of under-investment during the Troubles.