Chancellor George Osborne has asked for an extra £200 million to combat terrorism in Northern Ireland.
The Chancellor said security was his main concern while he considered the plea for money. He told the commons “security comes first”, as he addressed concerns from Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister David Ford.
During questions in the commons, Osborne was questioned about why he had yet to come to a decision about the funding. Shadow Northern Ireland Minister Stephen Pound said: “You will be aware of the statement made by the Northern Ireland Justice Minister (on Monday). Can you explain the reason for the continued failure to make a decision?”
“It is a request I have taken very seriously. We are just interrogating the request properly”, was the Chancellors response.
He was then asked by Belfast East Alliance MP Naomi Long to confirm that what had been requested was not additional funding, but rather “that the Treasury stand by the negotiated financial agreement that led to the devolution of policing and justice in the first place?”
The Chancellor told her: “We are carefully considering this request. I’m very clear that security comes first. Of course the Treasury has to do due diligence on any request from any department or from a devolved authority, but you should take it from me that we put security first.”
Mr Ford has warned that the architecture of devolution could face problems if the funding was not granted.
“If that were not made available, then the entire budget for the Department of Justice would be in major jeopardy” said The Alliance Party MLA for South Antrim “I believe it would be an indication of serious difficulty, frankly, for the entire process of the devolution of policing and justice”
Last year, the Police Service of Northern Ireland used £50 million to help combat specific terror issues. Police chief constable Matt Baggott has asked an additional £200 million being made available to continue this work.