Northern Ireland Stalemate Ends
An 11-week political stalemate at Stormont ended with last-minute talks late in December with Christmas looming. The deadlock stemmed from disagreements over marches and flag-waving policies combined with disputes over a financial assistance package from Westminster that would help curb the impact of welfare cuts in the North. The U.K. government eventually increased its offer of financial assistance to £2 billion that The Belfast Telegraph reported to be in a “mixture of loans and cash,” and was a significant increase from the original offer Prime Minister David Cameron laid out earlier in the month.
“I am delighted that a workable agreement has been reached that can allow Northern Ireland to enjoy a brighter, more prosperous future, while at the same time finally being able to deal with its past,” Cameron said in a statement. First Minister Peter Robinson called the deal, which also opens a route for the Northern Irish Executive to take over the North’s corporate tax laws independent of U.K. corporate policy, “monumental.”
Prior to the resolution, several senior U.S. officials, including Irish America Hall of Fame honoree and former congressman Bruce Morrison, sent a letter to Robinson and Deputy Minister Martin McGuinness calling for an end to the posturing. The letter also warned of the effect the stalemate was having on the endurance of the peace process, saying “children growing up without a vision of a shared cross-community future can too easily learn the ways of conflict again,” the Telegraph reported.