Beattie comments on talks

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Beattie comments on talks

Speaking ahead of the 5-party talks with the Secretary of State taking place later today, UUP leader Doug Beattie MC MLA made the following statement.

“The five party talks with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland are the first collective talks in quite a long period of time. Too long in my opinion and this has created an unhelpful atmosphere.

“The talks are likely to focus on Northern Ireland’s finances and the precarious position we find ourselves in. The issues surrounding finances have been one of the main topics between the Civil Service and the main political parties. They have centred around how Northern Ireland is financed with all party’s input into how we look at our finances in the future, including the possibility of a fiscal floor akin to the Welsh model, all taking into account the economics of scale. 

“Simply put it takes more to deliver services in Northern Ireland than it does in the rest of the United Kingdom due to our relative size of population, the legacy of our past and the decades of underinvestment in our critical infrastructure. This needs to be addressed.

“We must be realistic in our asks and temper expectations. We need to stabilise our services and then reform for the long term. Any financial package must be designed to allow any reformed Executive to have a running start and it must give space for financial reform and service delivery.

“As the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party I don’t care who takes credit for any financial package. I just want a funding package that can be directed to where it is needed at pace and with purpose.

“While I do not think this cross-party meeting will focus on the reformation of the Executive, it remains my understanding that talks are making very good progress and are nearing an end. I hope I will soon be able to join my fellow unionists in our devolved institutions where we can work together and with others to address issues facing all of us in Northern Ireland.”