Express & Star

Irish government ‘willing to help restore powersharing in any way economically’

Ireland’s Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said the restoration of Stormont would be of benefit to the whole island.

Fine Gael special conference

The Irish government is willing to “help in any way economically” to aid the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland, a senior minister has said.

The Stormont institutions have been effectively collapsed for more than a year and a half amid protest action by the DUP over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

This has left senior civil servants with limited powers leading government departments in Northern Ireland in the absence of locally elected ministers.

Talks remain ongoing between the DUP and the UK government to address unionist concerns.

Fine Gael special conference
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a Fine Gael special conference at the Glenroyal Hotel, Maynooth, Co Kildare (Brian Lawless/PA)

At the weekend, Irish premier Leo Varadkar said the Irish Government would be “happy to contribute” to any financial package that would support the return of Northern Ireland’s powersharing institutions.

Mr Varadkar also told his Fine Gael party’s special conference that there is a “real possibility” the Stormont Assembly and Executive could return by Christmas or in the New Year.

Last week, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson indicated they were “in the process of refining legislation” that protects Northern Ireland’s ability to trade within the UK, while previously Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said that he believed the talks were in the “final phase”.

On Monday, Ireland’s Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, emphasised that functioning devolved government in Northern Ireland will benefit the entire island.

In terms of money from the Republic he said there is money in the Shared Island Fund over a number of years that has not been allocated.

The Shared Island Fund was announced in 2021 with a plan for 500 million euro (£437m) in capital funding available to 2025 for investment in collaborative north/south projects.

In June, the Irish government announced 44.5 million euro (£38.97) for major investment at the Ulster University’s campus in Londonderry from the Shared Island Fund.

Asked where the money would come from to support the restoration of Stormont, Mr Donohoe said: “It would be money that we’ll be making available that we haven’t committed before, but these funds and that money would come out of the Shared Island Fund in the first instance.

“I’d have to say the benefits of getting the institutions in Northern Ireland up and running again would be of such benefit to the entire island of Ireland and obviously the communities of Northern Ireland, that the government would really lean in to try to help in any way that we can with this economically.

“But at the moment, we have a large amount of funding within the Shared Island Fund that has yet to be allocated and that is the first place that offers the ability to support any initiative that may help.”

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