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MPs warned 'there is no magic money tree' to rescue Stormont

By Noel McAdam

Conservative MPs have warned the Government may have to find more money to help resolve the current inter-party talks at Stormont.

But Tory under-secretary for Northern Ireland Ben Wallace insisted: "There is no magic money tree."

In the first major House of Commons debate on Northern Ireland since the General Election, he also stressed money for the Stormont administration is running out.

Tory MP Nigel Mills warned: "We cannot just sit back here and watch government fall apart and public spending descend into chaos.

"At some point we must say, reluctantly, that there really is no other way."

And his party colleague Bob Blackman urged Mr Wallace to ensure the Stormont Executive's Budget can be delivered.

Mr Wallace said, however: "The money is running out; there is no magic money tree. We have gone as long as people will want to tolerate withdrawal of services.

"The prize is great; the prize is in front of us. Northern Ireland is an exciting, confident place-better than when I was there in the '90s.

"If we can resolve this Stormont House impasse, I think Northern Ireland will go from strength to strength."

The debate was secured by Ulster Unionists, and led by South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan, who warned: "The current impasse, which is nothing more than the outworkings of this mismanagement and the mistrust of the major parties leading the assembly, has placed Northern Ireland in a precarious position, not only economically, but socially ".

But DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds argued: "Whatever emerges from the talks process this time has to do the job the IMC plainly didn't do last time.

"And the government has to be honest with us this time. It has to tell the public what's being achieved, or, as importantly, what isn't being achieved.

"A new mechanism for ridding us at last of the scourge of Republican and so-called loyalist criminal gangs has to be credible, independent, robust and transparent."

Former deputy First Minister Mark Durkan said the London Treasury had imposed penalties on the Executive over the failure to implement welfare reform which led to a Budget crisis which "in turn became a political crisis."

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