Arlene Foster calls for Westminster to make key spending decision in Northern Ireland

Written by Liz Bates on 20 February 2018 in News

In a phone conversation yesterday, the DUP leader asked Karen Bradley to set a budget and spending priorities for the province's schools, hospitals and infrastructure

Image credit: PA

Arlene Foster has urged Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley to take key public spending decisions as Stormont’s political deadlock continues.

In a phone conversation yesterday, the DUP leader asked Bradley to set a budget and spending priorities for the province's schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

The call comes after Theresa May failed to secure a breakthrough in the region last week during talks with party leaders on how to restore devolved government following over a year of stalemate.

Northern Ireland has been without an executive since January 2017, when then Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness pulled his party out in protest at the DUP's handling of a renewable energy scheme.  

Foster said Westminster must now intervene as "frontline staff" were living "hand-to-mouth".

She added: "School principals, hospital managers and infrastructure planners have been in limbo for months unsure of budgets and unable to get ministerial direction.

"I am not prepared to allow this to continue."

The DUP leader is expected to raise the issue again in Westminster and is set to meet the Prime Minister later this week.

Meanwhile, May discussed her disappointment at failing to reach a deal last week in a phone call with Irish deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar.

A Downing Street spokesman said in a statement: "Both leaders recognised the progress and serious engagement made by the parties.

"The Prime Minister said she believed there was scope for agreement and reiterated the UK government's priority was still to get devolution up and running again in Northern Ireland."

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