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Northern Ireland given £31m to prepare for no-deal Brexit

Money is to be spent on improving roads around the border.
Money is to be spent on improving roads around the border.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Northern Ireland was handed just £31.4million from a pot of £2.1billion to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Despite Northern Ireland being the only part of the UK which will share a land border with the EU after Brexit, the figure amounts to just 1.5% of the money made available from the UK Government to mitigate against the effects of a no-deal Brexit.

The figures were uncovered by the SDLP's Nichola Mallon.

"There is no scrutiny or accountability and despite requesting it, no explanation or rationale has been provided for these decisions," she told the BBC.

Of the £31.4m most was handed to the departments responsible for roads and agriculture.

  • £8m has been set aside for roads and port infrastructure.
  • Almost £6m allocated for "trade, inspection, legislation and policy staffing".
  • £3m for "vehicle parks".
  • £2.3m for signs CCTV and other communication equipment.
  • £2.2m for chemicals for NI Water.
  • £800,000 for shortages in health including medical supplies and devices.
  • £400k for a public information campaign.
  • £600k for Translink cross-border contingency planning.

The Department for Infrastructure said £7m is to be spent on improvement works or resurfacing on roads in and around border areas. Ports have been offered the chance to bid for £1m for work they may want to carry out.

Vehicle parks refer to upgrade work at park and ride sites around Belfast and Lisburn to handle additional traffic.

The Northern Ireland traffic control centre will be upgraded and new mobile cameras bought but only to monitor traffic flow and in order to mitigate for potential delays.

A smaller part of the money will go toward purchasing additional vehicles to cope with anything that may arise.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs could not provide an immediate break down of where it allocated the money to when approached for comment.

Official UK Government reports have warned of electric price hikes, shortages on medicine and food supplies as well as concern for animal welfare over shortage of veterinary supplies, lengthly delays at ports, protests and disorder.

A Northern Ireland Civil Service assessment of a no-deal Brexit said it would have a "profound and long-lasting" impact.

Sue Gray, permanent secretary of the Department of Finance and in charge of Northern Ireland's purse strings said she took the decision on where the money was to go.

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon expressed concern the money was allocated by civil servants with no input from MLAs. She also said the money could be used to pay for nurses or houses.

"Instead, we’re spending it trying to mitigate the economic disaster that’s about to happen on our doorstep against the will of our people," she said.

“Civil Servants are being forced to make controversial and highly political decisions with no scrutiny or accountability.

"In the middle of a national emergency for this island, that is unacceptable.

"We should not be paying to bring on an economic disaster that will cost thousands of jobs."

Sinn Fein said no amount of money could "cover the extent of the catastrophic damage Brexit will inflict on our economy".

A Department of Finance spokeswoman added: "The £31.4million Northern Ireland received was specifically for no deal Brexit preparations.

"Departments submitted their requirements in relation to No Deal preparedness, these were considered by DoF and allocations determined within the funding provided."

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