SDLP:Durkan critical of Prime Minister during All Party talks

SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan.

SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan.

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SDLP MP for Foyle Mark Durkan has criticised British Prime Minister David Cameron after his departure from All Party Talks at Stormont.

Mark Durkan said: “We know that David Cameron has said he has offered additional new money.

“There’s clearly big differences between our education system and the English education system when his idea of addition is essentially no new money.

“However, our disappointment with the Prime Minister’s empty package to date does not absolve parties from our responsibility to advance the Haass prospectus to address the past, parades, flags and identity in ways that means that the political process does not continue to be transfixed or convulsed by such sensitive issues.

“We also need to work on improving the workings of our institutions and showing more strategic purpose on the structural challenges for our regional economy.

“Alongside trying to optimise, in difficult circumstances, the financial position of the Executive and the services it delivers, we also have a duty to best protect the needs and rights of those who need the support of the welfare system.

“I have made the point to the Prime Minister that measures are needed not just to deliver our ‘more balanced economy’ but also a ‘more balanced region’.

“His supposed package with precious little new money seems to have a lot of conditionality with little additionality.

“In the negotiated Reinvestment and Reform Initiative borrowing power of £200m per year back in 2002 the clear commitment was that it would be used for strategic capital investment. His big offer was that the Executive would use the full £200m borrowing power in one year and £100m of it in each of the next 5 years not for strategic capital purchases but to fund voluntary exit from public sector employment.

“So not only is it not new money but there would be an opportunity cost in terms of capital investment in a region that needs it – not least in and to the West and North West.”