First questions about the DUP deal with the Conservatives

Handing over the money is not contingent on restoring the Executive – at least in print. but it is clearly intended  to put pressure on Sinn Fein. If there is no Executive what happens with the new £1 billion and even the already promised £500 million? A budget has to be passed next month by the Executive or by Westminster.

The DUP has accepted that the British government will be impartial  according to GFA principles for the Stormont talks and subsequently, despite the deal stating that the Conservative party “ can never be neutral”  on the Union. Will Sinn Fein and nationalism generally  challenge  the done deal for lack of impartiality or take the money and run  with it?

The deal statement says “ the legacy bodies would function in a way which is fair balanced and proportionate and which will not unfairly  focus on former members of the security forces.” How is this compatible with applying the Armed Forces Covenant “in full “ to Northern Ireland?  Does it presage a new deal for civilian victims of all kinds?

Not surprisingly there is no mention of any change in the UK Government ‘s reserve  on disclosure  on national  security grounds.  This remains a big  problem.

It looks as if the legacy plan will be published soon as the deal confirms that it will go out to consultation. The form of that consultation will be keenly awaited  to ensure it will not be monopolised by the parties  unable to break their deadlock.

As Air Passenger Duty is to be devolved and lower Corporation Tax was already approved and indeed encouraged by previous governments,  such concessions  would normally be offset by reductions in the block grant.  Will these now not take place? Or do they depend on the outcome of yet more  consultations?  With whom? Northern Ireland’s competitors  to be included?

The commitment to farm funding  already extended to the then legal limit of the previous Parliament to 2020. Applying it to the end of this Parliament could actually be a shorter commitment because of its obvious vulnerability. But constitutionally, that’s as far as any such commitment can be  made.

Health funding  promises “health service transformation.” We shall see .

The  survival of the triple lock being highlighted  in London was already certain, as the limit and cap  on charges to pensioners had been glaringly absent in the Queen’s Speech.

The Welsh  who are already feeling hard done by under the Barnet formula are furious. And what of the Scots and English regions? What happens to common cause among  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

More probing needed in Commons statement later today.

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Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

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