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£2bn loan deal for Northern Ireland branded 'a Third World bailout'

By Noel McAdam

The £2bn package of cash and loans secured as part of the Stormont House Agreement looks "like a Third World bailout", an MLA has said.

Ukip's David McNarry hit out after a pre-Christmas deal was struck following negotiations to resolve issues threatening to tear the Assembly apart. Stormont will get £2bn in spending power in return for implementing welfare system reforms, agreeing a balanced budget for the next financial year and public sector restructuring, which could see 20,000 Civil Service redundancies.

But Mr McNarry hit out: "If they couldn't even handle the block grant and budget, why would anyone have confidence in their ability to handle £2 billion of loans?

"This deal is worse than a second mortgage piled on top of the block grant, which is already being abused and mismanaged by the Executive. It is like a Third World bailout with massive repercussions which will last well beyond the 10-year time frame."

TUV leader Jim Allister warned the deal would mean a greater role for Dublin in Northern Ireland's "internal affairs" at meetings to review progress on the deal.

"Not only was the Dublin Foreign Minister (Charlie Flanagan) a host of the talks, but he is to have an ongoing role as an equal convener of meetings to oversee implementation of the Agreement," Mr Allister said.

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