BELFAST (Reuters) – The British government on Tuesday offered Northern Ireland political parties additional budget funding if an agreement is reached to re-establish the region’s power-sharing government.
Northern Ireland has been without a government for almost two years after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) walked out in protest over Britain’s attempts to settle post-Brexit trade rules for the region, which shares a land border with EU member Ireland.
There have been two strands to talks on restoring the government – one between the DUP and the British government over post-Brexit trade rules, and another between the government and Northern Ireland’s political parties, including the DUP, on a budget increase.
Neither will be agreed before Christmas, Britain’s Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris told journalists.
He said the government is offering in excess of 3 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) over five years, up from an earlier offer of 2.5 billion pounds. There is no deadline on the offer, he added.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson told journalists that progress had been made on addressing substantive issues and that his party was continuing to fight for the best deal.
($1 = 0.7863 pounds)
(Reporting by Amanda Ferguson; Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Sarah Young)