NORTHERN IRELAND has received no money in the British Government’s latest round of levelling up funding due to the ongoing political stalemate at Stormont
Some £1billion in funding was announced this week by the Department for Levelling Up, with 55 projects across the UK all receiving grants.
Announcing the recipients yesterday, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “Levelling up means delivering local people’s priorities and bringing transformational change in communities that have, for too long, been overlooked and undervalued.
“Today we are backing 55 projects across the UK with £1 billion to create new jobs and opportunities, power economic growth, and revitalise local areas.”
The announcement further confirmed that while the money had been allocated to projects across England, Wales and Scotland, there was no funding for projects in Northern Ireland.
“In Northern Ireland, given the current absence of a working Executive and Assembly, the Government is not proceeding with this round of the Levelling Up Fund at this time,” the Department confirmed.
“We will continue to work closely with projects and places in Northern Ireland that were awarded a total of £120million in the first two rounds of the Fund,” they added.
The devolved government in Northern Ireland has been out of action since February 2022 when the DUP refused to return to power-sharing until its demands on Brexit regulations affecting the region were met.
Responding to Mr Gove’s announcement, the DUP branded it “economic blackmail”, while the party’s MP Sammy Wilson described the move as “outrageous”.
He added that the absence of a working government at Stormont “has no material effect on the allocations”.
Branding the British Government’s move as “disgraceful”, Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said: “Workers and families continue to pay the price for one party’s reckless boycott.”
The SDLP party have accused the DUP of handing the British Government an “excuse to underinvest in Northern Ireland”.
South Belfast MP Claire Hanna said: “The UK Government never seem to need an excuse to underinvest in Northern Ireland and the DUP’s continued boycott of Stormont has handed them the perfect cover to leave our services and infrastructure to rot.”
“It’s laughable to hear the DUP talking about economic blackmail when they have been holding the people of Northern Ireland to ransom for the past year and a half.”
She added: “No matter what hardship has afflicted people here, from the cost of living emergency to the collapse of our health service, the DUP have remained unmoved and put their own political concerns over the needs of people who are struggling.
“We are not deaf to the concerns of ordinary unionists around identity and the post-Brexit trading arrangements but there can be no justification for the DUP’s refusal to get back to work and do their jobs.”