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Stormont is evenly split on the Trident nuclear vote

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Mike Nesbitt

Mike Nesbitt

PA

Mike Nesbitt

The divisive nature of the debate over the renewal of the UK's Trident nuclear defensive system was illustrated in stark fashion at Stormont when a vote on the issue was tied.

Forty-four Assembly Members supported Sinn Fein's motion questioning the multibillion pound expenditure, while 44 members opposed it. The draw meant the motion fell.

It would not have had any practical policy impact if it had passed because defence remains a matter reserved for Westminster.

The debate came a day after DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson suggested Trident's base could be moved to Northern Ireland if opposition to its presence in Scotland proved insurmountable.

Addressing MLAs in Parliament Buildings, Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy insisted it was important to have the debate, stressing the need to make the positions of the devolved institutions clear.

The Scottish Parliament recently held a similar debate on Trident, with a majority of members opposing renewal.

Mr Murphy said: "Of course, the British Government are entitled to have their own defence policy and follow their own defence strategies, as supported or proposed in the British House of Commons.

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"However, such spending plans have a direct impact across Britain and, indeed, here in Ireland, where people will be affected by the subsequent lack of money available to departments and the systems of public spending here."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt criticised Sinn Fein for tabling the debate. He contrasted the move with the party's support last week for transferring responsibility for the devolved issue of welfare reform back to Westminster.


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