BELFAST, Northern Ireland – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with Northern Ireland ministers to discuss the new deal that seeks to protect the region’s position in the union. The return of the devolved government has been a cause for optimism for both the government and the ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive. The meeting was described as “very good” by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, marking a significant step in the region’s political landscape.
During the meeting, the major issues being pressed by ministers include how Northern Ireland is funded. They have called for a new funding model that offers “long-term sustainability,” emphasizing the executive’s priority in this matter. Additionally, the ministers have raised concerns about the funding package announced before Christmas, indicating that it may lead to another budget crisis at Stormont unless it is revised.
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris weighed in, stating that a Fiscal Council report suggested that Northern Ireland is properly funded and questioned the figures used by ministers to demand funding changes. However, both the first and deputy first ministers reiterated it as an issue for Mr. Sunak. They emphasized the importance of proper financial arrangements to deal with the challenges ahead.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson raised concerns about the level of funding for Northern Ireland, emphasizing the need for the government to ensure sound financial positioning for the region. He also mentioned the deal reached with Number 10, which would lead to the withdrawal of routine checks on goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
This recent development culminated in the restoration of the power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland, marking a significant turning point in the region’s political landscape. With the return of the devolved government and ongoing negotiations regarding funding, the region’s future remains at the forefront of political discussions.