Dissension fuels sense that this deal lacks stable foundations

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Conor Murphy last night issued a press release on the financial package promised from the UK government.

The release was sent by the Department of Finance which he leads, but it came perilously close in tone to a party political statement.

The Sinn Fein minister can claim that he is speaking on behalf of a government that is at one in its unhappiness with the money that is being offered by London.

It is also possible that he was speaking in hard hitting terms for the optics, so that it is clear that he is battling for extra finances. But even then there are problems.

Mr Murphy’s release condemned the £250 million that has now been pledged by London to the legacy bodies that are due to be set up under the Stormont House Agreement.

That, however, presumably cannot be a joint position of the devolved executive when the DUP says it is withholding its support on the legacy plan until the way forward?

Meanwhile, Sammy Wilson MP was implicitly critical of the talks participants for not nailing down the funding before the deal was struck, because they will have lost their influence now that the negotiations are over.

The speed with which there is dissension and disagreement seems to reflect the speed with which this agreement was reached, and the pressure that was applied to the parties to reach it. It hardly suggests good foundations for the future.

The two main parties stood shoulder to shoulder with Robin Swann, the health minister, when he announced pay parity for nurses. But that was an easy decision for which there was wide public support, given the huge admiration for nurses and the vital work they do.

Even so, there are vast cost implications to pay parity, which will add to the tricky budgetary decisions later.

This government will be judged by many things, including whether or not it can responsibly make, rather than defer, hard choices.