Heaton-Harris says Stormont funding is 'ample' amid calls for more

Heaton-Harris Says Stormont Funding Is 'Ample' Amid Calls For More
The UK Northern Ireland secretary insisted the £3.3 billion package offered to the Executive by the UK government is ‘fair and generous’. Photo: PA Images
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Nina Lloyd and Jonathan McCambridge, PA

UK Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has rejected claims by Stormont ministers that better funding is needed from the UK government as powersharing returns in Northern Ireland.

The UK cabinet minister insisted the £3.3 billion package offered by Westminster is “ample” for the Executive to “get on with the job”.


Mr Heaton-Harris is joining UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Belfast on Monday to mark the restoration of devolved government.

But the newly-formed Executive has already written to Mr Sunak calling for urgent discussions on long-term funding stability to deliver public services.

Stormont Assembly
Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill is Northern Ireland’s first nationalist First Minister (Liam McBurney/PA)


Asked about claims that the current funding arrangement will not provide the basis for the Executive to deliver sustainable public services, the Northern Ireland secretary told BBC Breakfast: “I don’t believe that is the case. I think Stormont has fantastic, strong foundations now and it will survive, it will be sustainable.”

He added: “There is a thing, I think, about choices. You’re going into politics, you have to make choices on these sorts of things.

“Those choices haven’t been made for a long time out here, and I believe the new set of ministers are completely capable of running their public finances perfectly well with the fair and generous funding package we’ve given them.

“There’s a £3.3 billion package available to ministers on day one here to get on with the job of sorting out Northern Ireland public sector pay, health services and a whole host of other things, and I’d say that’s ample for the time being.”


Mr Varadkar and Mr Sunak will meet each other, as well as the leaders of the new powersharing Executive which was formed on Saturday, ending two years of political stalemate.

The Executive, headed by Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill with the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly serving as deputy First Minister, will also hold its first meeting on Monday as it begins the task of trying to manage the North’s strained finances.

The institutions were restored after a deal between the UK government and the DUP to address unionist concerns over post-Brexit trading arrangements, which included passing new legislation at Westminster.


The UK government’s £3.3 billion funding offer is aimed at stabilising finances in the region, and settling public sector pay claims.

The Executive will press Mr Sunak for more funding, but he has described the package as “a generous and fair settlement”.

Ms Little-Pengelly said Stormont ministers will be “speaking with one voice” in their talks with Mr Sunak.

She added: “We will be saying that the people of Northern Ireland deserve better public services and that we need to work together – the Executive and the government – to deliver long-term fiscal stability.

“We are ready to engage with the government and get down to the work of putting our finances on a sound footing; however, we will also be seeking to ensure the UK government provides sufficient funding in a package to fulfil its promises on public sector pay.”

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