Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Northern Ireland party leader in talks with Conservatives

Northern Ireland party leader in talks with Conservatives

British Prime Minister Theresa May and the leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party have struck a deal to support May's minority government.

In an annex outlining the deal, the government said it "recognizes that Northern Ireland has unique circumstances within the United Kingdom, not least as a outcome of responding to challenges of the past", and would therefore allocate 50 million pounds a year for two years "to address immediate pressures in health and education".

The deal will come as a relief to the British prime minister who is struggling with mounting complex problems, including party splits over the terms on which to leave the European Union and talk of a possible leadership challenge.

First Secretary of State Mr Green said the Conservatives "could have" continued without signing the deal.

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Concerns have been raised that a Tory-DUP deal could make it harder for a new power sharing deal between unionist and nationalist parties in Northern Ireland to be agreed.

Once the deal was reached, the Prime Minister said: "I welcome this agreement which will enable us to work together in the interest of the whole United Kingdom, give us the certainty we require as we embark on our departure from the European Union, and help us build a stronger and fairer society at home".

The Conservatives have 317 seats in the 650-seat parliament after the June 8 election and need the support of the DUP's 10 MPs to be able to govern. But Irish Government sources on Sunday said they were "reasonably optimistic" that aside from the Tory-DUP deal the Stormont-based parties could also form their own deal ahead of the June 29th deadline on devolution talks. "So the agreement we have come to is a very, very good one".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the agreement was not in the national interest, adding: "The Government must immediately answer two questions". The DUP will decide whether to support the Tories on other matters "case by case", according to the document. And, will all parts of the United Kingdom receive the much-needed additional funding that Northern Ireland will get as part of the deal? There will be 100 million pounds over five years for poverty programs and 50 million ($64 million) for mental health programs.

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"It provides a blank cheque for a Tory Brexit which threatens the Good Friday Agreement".

Other features of the agreement include a shared commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence and guaranteed funding for agriculture in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the deal means a continuation of Conservative Party policies.

And Sir John Major, the former Tory prime minister, has warned a DUP-Tory deal could put the Northern Ireland peace process at risk.

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The agreement has been greeted with widespread anger, with Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, warning it will threaten the Good Friday agreement.

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