Boris Johnson deflects questions of funding on Stormont visit

Diane Dodds

Diane Dodds Edwin Poots Peter Weir Deirdre Hargey Conor Murphy Robin Swann Naomi Long Nichola Mallon

Boris Johnson has pledged the government's support for Northern Ireland's revived power-sharing executive, but sidestepped questions about funding to shore up the historic deal. This claim has been undermined by Northern Ireland's obligation to implement European Union customs codes at its ports.

His comments on the Nolan Show seemed to chime with what Mrs Foster had told the Today programme about an hour earlier when she said that "now we need to look also at ways in which we can raise revenue and also pay back to the UK and that's what we want to do - we want to make sure that pay our way as citizens of the United Kingdom".

"Leo Varadkar has never been called a bigot for refusing to sit in government with Sinn Fein".

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer, a longstanding critic of the unit, said the Government would continue to work to protect troops from "vexatious prosecutions".

Meanwhile fellow Tory MP James Gray, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group for the Armed Forces, said: "The notion, as has been rumoured, that one of the terms and conditions of the Stormont agreement is that all historical death cases should now be reopened would be an outrage and goes totally against the manifesto on which we were elected just one month ago".

The new agreement contained provision for "proper responsibility for the use of public funds", he said. "We have done our bit".

In July past year, the British Parliament passed legislation to bring the province into line with the rest of the United Kingdom, dictating that regulations governing same-sex marriage and civil partnerships will be made no later than 13 January, unless the devolved government was restored before 21 October.

Asked about the scandal, Johnson replied: "It is vital that public spending in Northern Ireland is properly invigilated and there is no repetition of that kind of thing".

He said the Northern Irish political parties had done a good job balancing that with giving confidence to victims of violence who were seeking answers.

With the detail of the deal to restore Stormont known since last Thursday night and the Executive having already been reformed on Saturday, Boris Johnson's visit to Stormont yesterday was nearly ceremonial.

Stalled mechanisms backed by Northern Ireland's parties in a 2014 agreement are due to be implemented as part of last week's accord.

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