This morning’s Independent [not printed in NI, but article available online] carries an interview by David McKittrick with Ian Paisley Jnr on its front page. The DUP’s shopping list has got longer …
On the fifth day of electioneering the DUP said to me:
stronger controls on immigration and border security,
no more bedroom tax,
an EU referendum,
two percent of GDP spent on defence,
and hundreds of millions to ease the burdens in Northern Ireland.
The North Antrim MP restated the DUP’s position that they are not interested in cabinet positions or “to be part of a formal government arrangement” but added to Nigel Dodds’ previous limited statement of policies that would attract the unionist MPs towards a confidence and supply arrangement after May’s election:
“Northern Ireland gets just under £13bn a year [from Westminster]. There’s no reason why, over the period of the next five years, that couldn’t be increased by x billion per year. I think that would be a very attractive deal – I’d break my arm for it,” he said.
Asked precisely how much extra the DUP would be seeking, he replied: “We’d have to work that out. But it would be hundreds of millions; it wouldn’t be a paltry sum. It would be something that would ease burdens in Northern Ireland.
It’s not clear whether Ian Paisley was speaking with the authority of the DUP’s Westminster team, or whether he was caught saying what the DUP don’t want to be heard asking for.
It would be cheaper to call a fresh general election than do a deal with the DUP to get into government!
Who could fault a politician for fighting for the best deal for his electorate … unless you believe that you can’t spend your way out of conflict and Northern Ireland has to face up to reality and stop its dysfunctional behaviour of believing that pocket money grows on trees.
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Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson was asked about the DUP’s terms of support on BBC’s Daily Politics and emphasised “putting national issues first” over “getting a fair share for Northern Ireland”.
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about and reports from civic, academic and political events, reviews cultural performances, chairs discussions, and live-tweets, streams and records lectures and conferences. He delivers social media training, coaching and consultancy, produces podcasts, is a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland, FactCheckNI board member, and is a member of the Corrymeela Community.