The British government is to increase its spending in the Six Counties following meetings with the North’s political parties.
The headline figure of 53 billion pounds sterling (over a 100 billion dollars) over ten years is understood to include existing financial commitments. Nevertheless, it is estimated that British expenditure in the North of Ireland is set to rise from about 8 billion pounds a year to 11 billion pounds a year over the next four years.
British chancellor of the exchequer Gordan Brown insisted the expenditure, equivalent to about #5,000 ($10,000) per household per year, was conditional on adherence to the British and Irish governments’ timetable for restoration of powersharing in Belfast.
It was not immediately clear how the money would be spent, although the funds were explicitly identified with peace efforts.
The 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern welcomed Mr Brown’s announcement as “another significant positive step forward” in the process towards a lasting settlement in Ireland.
“It is an essential part of the St Andrews Agreement. It clearly shows what can be achieved when the Northern Ireland parties work together. It is important that the parties continue their collective engagement with the [British] Treasury with a view to following up on today’s announcement.”
The money was welcomed by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams as “a peace dividend”, while the DUP expressed disappointment and insisted the unionist electorate’s support for the St Andrews Agreement “could not be bought”.