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DUP's Westminster leverage could be a shot in the arm for businesses, culture and the general public

 

Congratulations are undoubtedly due to the DUP in this 2017 Westminster election and also to Sinn Fein.

It's difficult to see the DUP being able to focus on restoring the Assembly until their negotiations with the Conservative and Unionist Party are completed.

However, their extra leverage at Westminster might provide solutions to outstanding problems at Stormont.

For example, if the Treasury were to meet RHI costs in full, would it still be such an issue?

And if Westminster were to fund extra NHS spending in NI to reduce waiting lists, would other Stormont parties be more amenable to getting the devolved institutions up and running again?

Similarly, it could be argued that, were Stormont to have the same tax and spending powers enjoyed by the Scottish parliament, this could help ameliorate the ravages surrounding upcoming Brexit negotiations, especially if corporation tax were devolved to help NI businesses ride out the expected storms over the next two years.

And if the television license collected in NI were allocated in full to Stormont to fund an indigenous broadcaster on a par with RTE, this would complement the work of NI Screen to create well-paid local jobs.

In short, tax-and-spend powers at Stormont would allow ministers to prioritise business sectors and services that enhance the quality of life in NI.

To the victors the spoils.

Bernard J Mulholland

Belfast

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