Mixed political reaction to Tory-DUP deal

Prime Minister Theresa May, DUP leader Arlene Foster, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson outside 10 Downing Street in London today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prime Minister Theresa May, DUP leader Arlene Foster, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson outside 10 Downing Street in London today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

There has been mixed reaction from Northern Ireland political parties to the DUP-Conservative deal.

Former UUP member Lord Kilclooney welcomed the deal without qualification, TUV leader Jim Allister said it was a squandered opportunity to reform Stormont, while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that new monies should not be spent on party political issues.

Cross Bencher Lord Kilclooney said: “As one who has opposed the DUP more than anyone else - at Local Government; Stormont; Westminster; and European Elections - I very much welcome the Agreement.

“The DUP has acted in the best interests of all the people of Northern Ireland and in the national interest of the United Kingdom.

“This Agreement in no way contradicts the Belfast Agreement of which I was one of the negotiators. In contrast the interference in NI internal Affairs in recent weeks by Dublin Ministers calls into Question the impartiality of the Irish Government”.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA said: “What’s critical now is that we have an Executive to prioritise areas of spend to ensure this resource is targeted at areas of need, not the parochial priorities of one political party.

“The document outlines projects like the York Street interchange. But the regional priorities must be building the A5 and the A6, using city deals to further the expansion of Ulster University at Magee and bespoke investment across the North and an immediate end to regional investment disparities.

“The Tories may have bought the DUP but we will continue to be vocal opponents of the hard Brexit juggernaut that is barrelling down the line. People in Northern Ireland voted to defend our position in Europe, we will not quietly acquiesce to a Tory Brexit.

“No element of this deal can override the principles or the practice of our hard won devolution settlement. Any position which attempts to wrestle power back from a local Executive will be opposed in the strongest possible terms.

“The DUP must be prepared to work constructively with parties over the coming days to restore power sharing. That is the only game in town now.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said additional funding for Northern Ireland is “of course welcome” and underscores the financial advantages of being part of the United Kingdom.

“I am mindful, however, that a few years ago we were all told that £800 million of new money had been secured before the devolution of policing and justice,” he said. “It turned out to be smoke and mirrors.

“It is disappointing that this unique opportunity to reform Stormont has been squandered. The DUP has for years claimed it is opposed to the Belfast Agreement system of government. If so, then, it had a once in a lifetime opportunity to force the replacement of unworkable mandatory coalition with provisions allowing a coalition of the willing.”

The DUP are now are in the business again of “paying the Sinn Fein price on an Irish Language Act etc to get back their government limos”.

He added: “The commitment to extend the Armed Forces Covenant to Northern Ireland is welcome but there are other important changes which are needed which are not mentioned. Chief among these is the absence of any mention of a change in the obscene definition of victim which equates innocent victims with perpetrators.”

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney said the deal is primarily a matter for the Tories and DUP.

“I note that the agreement provides for DUP support for British government legislation on Brexit,” he said. “An enhanced Northern Ireland voice articulating an agreed devolved government position could see more effective and inclusive representation of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland at Westminster.

“Inevitably, some of the policy agreement between both parties reflects their long held views. However, I welcome both parties recommitment to the Good Friday Agreement and its successors, and the commitment by the British Government to govern in the interests of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland.”