Agriculture singled out as ‘critical policy area’ in DUP £1 billion deal with Tories

Northern Ireland’s agriculture sector has been highlighted as a “critical policy area during the EU exit negotiations” in an agreement between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Conservatives.

Leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, arrived in London this morning, June 26, to finalise a deal to form a UK government with the Tories a week after the negotiations on Brexit began.

The agreement includes a £1 billion (€1.1 billion) package on extra funding for the region over a two-year period, as well as a commitment to provide the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of the parliament.

Under the details of the deal, the Conservatives noted that one of the first tasks of the power-sharing Executive – which has yet to be formed – will be to work towards a devolved corporate tax rate. This is a move set to spook an Irish government fearful of corporate tax competition north of the border.

Among the bonus funding package for NI was a £400 million commitment to infrastructure development, as well as £100 million to tackle pressures in health and education.

The policy agreement sought to appease concerns that a deal between the DUP and the Conservatives would compromise the UK government’s neutrality on the Good Friday Agreement.

A statement from the newly-formed government said: “The Conservative Party reiterates its steadfast support for the Belfast Agreement and its successors and, as the UK government, will continue to govern in the interests of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland.

“The UK government will continue to support close cooperation with the Irish government, and work with it in accordance with the Belfast Agreement and subsequent agreements, while recognising that ultimate responsibility for political stability in Northern Ireland rests with the UK government.”

This comes after the Ulster Farmers’ Union issued a call for Northern Ireland politicians to reach an agreement to restore the power-sharing Executive, with just three days left for Sinn Fein and the DUP to come to a compromise.

The bonus £1 billion package includes:
  • £200 million per year for two years for infrastructure development;
  • £75 million per year for two years for ultra-fast broadband;
  • £20 million per year for five years to tackle severe deprivation;
  • £50 million per year for two years for health and education;
  • £100 million per year for two years for health service transformation;
  • £10 million per year for five years for mental health provision.