The £1bn grant will bring much-needed help to the region's poorest—and could also encourage a deal in Stormontby Ruth Dudley Edwards / June 30, 2017 / Leave a comment
“I can barely put into words my anger at the deal my party has done with the DUP,” said the Conservative MP Heidi Allen during the Queen’s Speech debate this week.
Allen is principled. Unlike others, she wasn’t basing her opposition on nonsensical complaints about the deal being a danger to the peace process because it would compromise the impartiality of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Instead, her objection is based on the distaste she feels at “the use of public funds to garner political control.” It is true that in an ideal world no government would stoop so low. Yet buying support has been a constant feature of politics in the United Kingdom. Allan went on to say that she could not “fault the DUP for wanting to achieve the very best for their residents in Northern Ireland.” And this they certainly did.
Help for the region’s poorest
Since it came under new management in 2007, the DUP has been increasingly trying to move beyond the bigoted image it earned while it was the fiefdom of the über-Protestant Reverend Ian Paisley. As vicious attacks rained down on them from the British press—mostly ill-informed—the party was patiently and toughly negotiating a £1 billion financial deal in the interests of everyone in the province.
Its main features were £400 million for badly needed infrastructure projects, £200m for improvement of the creaking health service (22 per cent of the entire population are on a hospital waiting list), £150m for ultra-fast broadband and £100m for tackling deprivation.
With a population of only 1.8 million, £1 billion should go a…