In Northern Ireland we are in a weak position to demand more cash

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Millions of people across the UK last night saw public spending in Northern Ireland detailed on the main 10pm BBC One news bulletin.

Spending was, the report said, £11,500 per head in the Province, compared to £9,500 in the rest of the UK.

Much of the general public in Great Britain clearly noticed the money the DUP got for NI in its confidence and supply agreement, because opposition MPs would go on to mock the Tories as to whether they were ‘bribing’ the DUP for support every time there was a key Brexit vote. Broadcasters and comedians made similar remarks on popular UK-wide shows.

It is hardly flattering to Northern Ireland to be so generously treated by the Treasury and still seem so demanding, and indeed ungrateful at times.

It is not surprising that republicans made clear their displeasure yesterday at suggestions of the money being offered by the UK government to help the return of devolution. After all, Sinn Fein passionately wants the Union to end, so it is logical for it to reject everything British except its money.

But it is unseemly when unionists join the fray, and seem also to have a take, take, take mindset.

In the first instance it is worrying if any unionists feel that they have done ‘their part’ in this deal, and so now the UK spending taps should open. Have massive and troubling concessions to nationalists, even on legacy, been made because it was a balanced deal or in return for an injection of cash?

Arlene Foster said on Radio Four yesterday, to another huge UK audience, that NI’s water infrastructure was bad.

Yes it is, and NI alone in the UK does not pay water charges.

After the scandalous waste of money in RHI and given the tendency of Stormont to endorse cross-party freebies such as free prescriptions and lowering the age of free public transport in a time when people are living older, and to waste money by ducking difficult decisions such as NHS reform, we are in no position to be lecturing London on budgets.