NW development is part of Stormont deal

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The conclusion of the ten week negotiation on the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) on Tuesday included a direct focus on the North West.

Section E of the Agreement focuses on Irish Government Financial Support. In a specific section on the North West Development Fund it states: “The Irish Government is committed to supporting the regional development work of the North West Gateway Initiative which involves Donegal County council and Derry City and Strabane District Council and is part of the work programme of the North South Ministerial Council.

“The Irish Government has agreed to provide 2.5 million Euro to support the initiative, which will be completed by matching funding by the Northern Ireland Executive.”

The Agreement also states that this will be overseen by senior officials from the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive.

The major parts of the SHA include that Stormont will now have to implement welfare cuts as laid down by the Conservative Government. Also, the power over corporation tax will devolved to Stormont allowing for the introduction of a rate of 12.5 per cent, bringing it into line with the Republic of Ireland. there will be an additional £500 million from the British Exchequer to tackle issues unique to Northern Ireland and will have emphasis on for example the removal of peace walls. In addition political parties will be obliged to work together to end the presence of paramilitarism and there will be more concentration on ending cross border criminality. Measures will also be introduced to tackle the issues of parades and flags and there will be steps taken to reform the Assembly itself, including its size, the number of departments and the use of petitions of concern as a form of opposition.

However, the five political parties on the Northern Ireland Executive failed to reach agreement on mechanisms for dealing with the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict.

Both nationalist parties had stated they had fuundamental difficulties with the initial proposals realting to that issue.

Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said his party had major concerns over clauses inserted by the British government relation to national security. He said: “The legacy of the past remains a huge gap in this work.

“The onus remains on the British government to live up to their responsibilities to victims, in particular full disclosure.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also expressed his concerns on the issue by stating: “The absence of comprehensive proposals on the Past is a very serious failure. Three times before – Eames Bradley, Haass O’Sullivan and Stormont House – negotiations to address the Past did not succeed.

“Now for a fourth time, victims and survivors will be deeply disappointed.

“This cannot be allowed to endure. We must get back to this work. Those who persist in impeding truth and accountability cannot prevail.”