The parties to the Stormont House Agreement have agreed to meet in the North West in early 2015 to consider how to better develop the Londonderry, Limavady and Donegal areas.
According to the document, which was released on Tuesday (December 23) the participants agreed that: “In early 2015, a meeting of relevant Ministers from North and South will take place in the North West to consider strategic approaches to the development of the region as envisaged in the North West Gateway Initiative (NWGI). Further meetings may also take place.”
The NWGI was announced at the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference in May 2006 and is listed as an outstanding commitment in ‘Stormont House.’
Elsewhere, it says that the local parties will attempt to agree “a final balanced budget for 2015/16 in January 2015 with a clear commitment to put the Executive’s finances on a permanently sustainable footing for the future.”
The UK Government also expects “progress on welfare reform in January with the Welfare Bill passing through Consideration Stage in the Assembly before the end of February.”
In return for this a financial package and the devolution of corporation tax will be made available.
“The total value of the Government’s package is additional spending power of almost £2 billion. This is made up of up to £650m of new and additional funding; flexibilities that protect £900m of resource spending (normally ring fenced for capital); and additional capital borrowing of up to £350m. These measures could also help to generate year on year savings of around £500m,” the agreement states.
Other notable features are: no commitment to an Irish Language Act; a range of new commissions are proposed for dealing with the past. These include a new Historical Investigations Unit (HIT), a new Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR), and a new Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG), all of which are survivors of the Haass proposals.