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Revealed: The Conservative deal with DUP ahead of 2015 General Election

By Jonathan Bell

Documents have been revealed outlining the deal the DUP and the Conservatives struck ahead of the 2015 General Election should the Northern Ireland party have held the balance of power.

The Daily Telegraph reports on the "confidence and supply" deal David Cameron's Tory party struck with the then Peter Robinson led DUP. The paper says representatives for Prime Minister David Cameron held secret talks with the party over several days  in the run up to the election and drew up a draft agreement.

And in the DUP manifesto at the time, it outlined what it could look for in the event of a hung parliament.

The revelations come ahead of DUP leader Arlene Foster's meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May. Speaking to BBC Radio 4, former DUP Spad Richard Bullick said economic considerations would be the focus of the discussions.

Read more: Don't take Labour's grasp of NI history with a pinch of salt ... try a pillar

He said the party needed to be cautious on its deal with the Conservatives.

"I think the notion of writing blank cheques and then being asked to stand over every decision would be an incredible deal. The reality is it would not be long before there is another election for people to answer for those decisions."

However, Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd said no deal should be done that affects power sharing in Northern Ireland.

The Union is my guiding star so we would be looking to make sure the Union stays strong. Arlene Foster

Sky News reported that the DUP delegation had "not taken overnight bags" as they expected a deal to be done during Tuesday's meeting. Arlene Foster told the broadcaster: "I'm now looking forward to having a face-to-face conversation with the Prime Minister.

"We enter these talks in a positive manner but we are first and foremost unionists and we want to secure the Union. We do want to do so in the national interest and for the stability of the government and that's the spirit with which we will be entering these negotiations.

Read more: What might be on DUP wish list when Arlene Foster meets Theresa May at Downing Street?

The documents - marked 'official sensitive' - leaked to the Daily Telegraph reveal:

The DUP would:

  • Support Government in any no-confidence motion as long as deal was in place.
  • DUP would vote on all matters along government lines except on matters of welfare reform or exclusive Northern Ireland issues or the devolution of powers.

In exchange the Government would:

  • Examine adjustments on corporation tax in Northern Ireland which would, among other caveats, be acceptable to other local parties.
  • Discuss Northern Ireland tax changes to promote economic growth.
  • Agree measures on foreign direct investment and ensure Northern Ireland would receive "fair share" of Government contracts and of infrastructure investments to enhance communication and transport between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • Discuss matters relating to military covenant
  • Implement commitments in Conservative manifesto.

There are also commitments on strengthening national defence, the size of the armed services as well as increasing reserve forces and maintaining defence spending.

"The DUP and the Conservative party agree that the UK's standing in the world is of paramount significance," the document states.

"The DUP will accordingly support the government's determination to maintain the scope and reach of our diplomatic effort, the scale and effectiveness of our traditional aid programme (including in relation to conflict resolution and stabilisation) and the strength of or national defence."

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