DUP to meet PM after NI governance assurance

Theresa May is to meet the DUP today over governance of Northern Ireland
Theresa May is to meet the DUP today over governance of Northern Ireland

DUP leaders are to meet the Prime Minister today to press for more decision making by London in the absence of a power-sharing assembly.

The meeting takes place after an indication by the government last week that it would be moving in this direction in the absence of regional government, which collapsed in January 2017.

In a statement welcomed by the DUP last week, the UK government said that it will “take whatever steps are necessary to provide good governance and ensure the continued delivery of Northern Ireland’s vital public services”.

After the general election in June 2017 the DUP entered a confidence and supply deal with the Tory government, in which it undertook to support the Torys with votes on key issues in return for a financial package.

In next week’s budget bill, around £400m is expected to be made available for health, education and infrastructure in Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds are expected to seek assurances today that the money will be spent, regardless of whether devolved government is operating in Northern Ireland or not. They are also expected to discuss Brexit.

Mrs Foster last week welcomed the government indication that it would be taking more decisions on behalf of Northern Ireland government.

“This is a welcome and politically significant statement published by Downing Street on behalf of the Government,” she said. “People working in our schools, hospitals, community sectors as well as the construction sector need decisions made,” she said. “They will also welcome this.

“Sinn Fein’s refusal to enter the Executive is causing havoc in our public services. Simple decisions are being left in limbo.

“Nigel Dodds and I will be meeting the Prime Minister on Monday to discuss these matters further. It is not tolerable for public services in Northern Ireland to suffer further.

“We look forward to the Government taking forward its commitment to consult with the locally elected politicians on the work of the Northern Ireland departments and in respect of forthcoming public appointments.”