UK election: Source spills on the DUP's support demands

  • 11/06/2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May's office says Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party has agreed to support her minority government on an informal basis in parliament, the Press Association reports

The DUP agreed to supporting to the government on a "confidence and supply" basis, which would involve it supporting a Conservative minority government on key votes in parliament but not forming a formal coalition partnership.

Ms May failed to win a majority in the British parliament in an election on Thursday (local time). A deal with the DUP and their 10 lawmakers would give her a workable majority.

Ms May's office had no immediate comment on the PA report on Saturday.

The DUP's demands - source

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party is seeking more funding for the province and concessions for former British soldiers in exchange for supporting British Prime Minister Ms May, a source close to the party says.

A senior Conservative MP is in Belfast on Saturday for talks with the DUP, a spokesperson for Ms May's office said.

The DUP has refused to give details in public of what concessions it might seek, and did not respond to a request for comment.

The source said the DUP was likely to seek a role in Brexit negotiations but was likely to steer clear of social issues such as abortion and gay rights, where it disagrees with Conservative Party positions.

It was also likely to seek to include Northern Ireland in the "Military Covenant", which ensures that veterans of the British armed forces receive priority medical treatment in the remainder of the United Kingdom.

Such a move would be strongly opposed by the Irish nationalists of Sinn Fein who share power in Belfast under a 1998 peace agreement that ended three decades of violence between nationalists and pro-British loyalists.

It may also ask for measures to protect British soldiers accused of historical crimes related to the conflict, in which 3600 people were killed.

Concessions on such issues would seriously damage efforts by the DUP to secure a deal with Sinn Fein to restore Northern Ireland's devolved government, which collapsed in January.

Failure in the talks could lead to a return to direct rule from London for the first time in a decade, and fuel tensions that have in the recent past led to street violence and attacks by dissident nationalists.

Sinn Fein says former nationalist guerillas and military personnel must be treated equally, and has accused the DUP of attempting to give immunity to former British soldiers accused of torture.

The DUP's demands are likely to be similar to a list it published before the 2015 general election, where the Conservatives ultimately secured a majority and did not need DUP support.

That list included a demand for a cut in Northern Ireland's corporation tax rate to help it attract foreign investment.

It also asked for "constitutional stability for Northern Ireland", an apparent reference to efforts by Irish nationalists to seek a referendum on splitting from the United Kingdom and joining the Irish Republic.

Reuters

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