The UK government has confirmed that no funding has been allocated to Northern Ireland from a £1bn funding scheme because of Stormont’s collapse. The Department for Levelling Up announced funding for 55 projects across Great Britain but no money has been provided to Northern Ireland “at this time” due to the absence of an executive and assembly. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has branded the decision as “economic blackmail” and has been blocking a restoration of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing institutions in protest against post-Brexit trade barriers between the region and Great Britain.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has claimed that the funding announced on Monday would “create new jobs and opportunities, power economic growth, and revitalise local areas”. However, the Department for Levelling Up confirmed that no funding had been allocated to Northern Ireland. “In Northern Ireland, given the current absence of a working executive and assembly, the government is not proceeding with this round of the Levelling Up Fund at this time,” it stated. The department added that it would continue to work closely with projects and places in Northern Ireland that were awarded a total of £120m in the first two rounds of the fund.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson described the decision as “outrageous” and claimed that “the government has syphoned money away from Northern Ireland to shore up Conservative seats in England.” Sinn Féin assembly member Conor Murphy also criticised the move by the UK government and claimed that “workers and families continue to pay the price for one party’s reckless boycott of the executive.” Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Party assembly member Andy Allen is planning to write to Mr Gove, pressing for the “unacceptable” funding decision to be “reversed”.
Stormont’s power-sharing government has not been functioning since last year after the DUP withdrew in protest against post-Brexit trade barriers under the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Windsor Framework, which was struck by the UK government and European Union earlier this year in an effort to address concerns with the protocol, has not been deemed enough by the DUP. The party has been in talks with the government to seek further legal assurances of Northern Ireland’s place within the UK internal market
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