Tories suggest £1bn Northern Ireland funds not dependent on restoring devolution
The Conservative Party has suggested that £1 billion of funding for Northern Ireland will be available regardless of whether an executive can be formed at Stormont.
In July, the Democratic Unionist Party negotiated the extra funds in exchange for backing the Tories at Westminster.
On Thursday DUP MP Sammy Wilson criticised Secretary of State James Brokenshire for a lack of clarity about how the money could be spent.
Mr Brokenshire had earlier stopped short of ruling out that it could be dependent on restoring devolution.
The DUP has always insisted the money is not subject to that condition.
But on Friday a statement from the Conservative Party strongly implied that the restoration of devolved institutions is not a precondition for the funding.
A spokesman said: "Our goal remains for the executive to be re-established and for the funding to be provided to the new executive.
"However, if it proves impossible for an executive to be formed we have recognised in the confidence and supply agreement the need for additional funding to deal with Northern Ireland's particular circumstances."
Under the "confidence and supply" arrangement between the Democratic Unionists and Tories reached last month, 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.
Northern Ireland has been without a functioning executive since January, when the coalition led by the DUP and Sinn Fein collapsed over a green energy scandal.
Talks in both the spring and summer aimed at restoring power-sharing at Stormont failed, with the parties remaining deadlocked over a number of issues.