British Government ‘needs to deliver on financial promises’

The British Government needs to quickly deliver on its financial promises to back up renewed powersharing in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill said.

Paying pensions to people injured during the conflict, and compensating institutional abuse victims, will cost millions of pounds, and funding must be urgently identified, ministers told a Stormont committee meeting.

Sinn Fein’s deputy first minister said the success of the devolved institutions relied upon extra money from London.

Mrs O’Neill said: “We expect them also to deliver on the finances.

“The finance minister has been back and forth with the Treasury. We intend to push very hard in terms of getting to delivery.”

Powersharing was restored at Stormont last month following a three-year hiatus.

The Westminster Government is to give the Northern Ireland Executive an extra £1 billion to support the agreement.

A further £1 billion will be added to Stormont’s budget as a consequence of spending plans for the rest of the UK.

Further financial backing has not been ruled out as a consequence of the UK budget next month.

A series of pledges surrounding areas like health and education were contained in the deal supported by the British and Irish Governments, which heralded the return of powersharing.

Child abuse inquiry hearing
Payments ranging from £7,500 to £100,000 were among recommendations following a public inquiry chaired by the late Sir Anthony Hart (Paul Faith/PA)

Mrs O’Neill said: “There is a lot of expectation that we can deliver. If we are going to be successful we need the finances to back that up.”

She joined First Minister Arlene Foster in a first appearance before their Stormont scrutiny committee.

Mrs Foster told Stormont’s Executive Office Committee that the Historical Institutional Abuse redress scheme, and Troubles pensions for those badly injured during the conflict, could each cost between £25 million and £60 million.

She said the source of funding for them would have to be identified as a “matter of some urgency.”

The first compensation payments will be made this spring.

Payments ranging from £7,500 to £100,000 were among recommendations following a public inquiry chaired by the late Sir Anthony Hart.

Legislation was passed at Westminster last November to allow victims to receive redress.

Mrs Foster said much work needed to be done by her office, including reorientating Northern Ireland’s Brussels office to its new role representing a country outside the EU.

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