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The Ulster Unionist Party’s reaction to the proposed Stormont House Agreement

In a statement following the conclusion of the cross-party talks at Stormont House, the Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, said:

“We argued from the outset that while there were many important issues on the agenda, the only one that posed a real and present threat to the future of devolved government was the finances. That is where the majority of the effort went from the five parties of the Executive and that is where the major input came from the London Government, with a very significantly enhanced offer.

“When we pressed Sinn Féin last week to tell us who they wanted to protect from Welfare Reform and how they wanted to do it, they finally produced their Wish List and lo and behold, it was a set of proposals we could support and which the Executive could afford without further assistance from Westminster, which was clearly never going to happen.

“This financial package is not only transformational, it comes in an agreement that makes possible the devolution of Corporation Tax, something that was an Ulster Unionist idea, and which remains the one game-changing policy lever that can rebalance our economy and significantly grow the private sector.

“Some are worried about the cost to the Block Grant of lowering Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland but we believe the sale of Belfast Harbour would go a very long way to paying for it and the Prime Minister granted our request that the full proceeds could be retained by the Executive, rather than having to offer 50% of the sale price back to HM Treasury.

“The Agreement goes beyond finances and what is immediately clear is the recognition there were no negotiations around parades. The issue of the past has also been addressed in a manner that moves the debate well beyond the failed Hass proposals.

“The Ulster Unionist Party will take the proposed Stormont House Agreement to the Party Executive, which is the decision-making body, for debate and decision as soon as possible.”

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