LONDON – The leader of a Northern Ireland-based party struck a 1.5 billion pound ($1.9 billion) deal with British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives on Monday to support her minority government in a crucial vote on her legislative package later this week.
Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said the details of the deal with the Conservatives will be published later. The funds were expected to be used to boost Northern Ireland’s economy and offer investment in new infrastructure, health and education.
Foster said the funding would “address the unique circumstances” of Northern Ireland. May, who didn’t give specifics about the deal, said that the two parties “share many values.”
“We also share the desire to ensure a strong government, able to put through its program and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations, but also national security issues,” May said after the deal was signed. “So the agreement we have come to is a very, very good one.”
But the figure is certain to raise questions at a time of funding pressure to support police and security services following several extremist attacks as well as a national housing crisis following a devastating fire in a London high-rise that killed at least 79 people. The other parts of the United Kingdom are also certain to object to special consideration for Northern Ireland.
Foster’s party has said it wanted tangible benefits for Northern Ireland in terms of jobs and investment in order to offer its support for May, who lost her majority in the House of Commons in a snap election earlier this month. The prime minister needs the DUP’s 10 lawmakers to support her to stay in power.
But critics, including members of May’s Conservatives, have objected to any kind of alliance with the DUP because of some of its views, including opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion.
May and Foster looked on Monday as the agreement was signed by the Conservative Party’s chief whip Gavin Williamson and the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson.