1. ITV Report

Deal agreed to salvage Stormont power-sharing

The negotiations took place at Stormont House. Credit: PA

A deal to salvage Northern Ireland's crisis-hit power-sharing administration has been announced.

The agreement endorsed by Sinn Fein, the Democratic Unionists and the UK and Irish governments was struck after almost 10 weeks of negotiations at Stormont House in Belfast.

A range of disputes, including the fallout from a murder linked to the IRA and an acute budgetary crisis over non-implementation of welfare reforms, had pushed the coalition Executive towards the verge of collapse.

The new deal which runs to almost 70 pages has found a way to resolve the budgetary crisis caused by the long-running failure to adopt welfare changes.

A motion which would give Westminster the power to enact the controversial changes to the benefits system will be debated during a specially convened plenary session in the Stormont Assembly on Wednesday.

The fallout from the killing of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan was also on the agenda during the talks and a new panel is being set up to examine the ongoing scourge of paramilitarism. It is understood the four representatives will be selected by the Stormont Executive and both governments.

However, there has been no agreement over how to deal with the legacy of Northern Ireland's troubled past and the impasse between Sinn Fein and the UK Government over the disclosure of official documents to proposed truth-recovery bodies remains unresolved.

The key reforms in the deal:

  • An additional £500 million to assist the Executive in tackling issues unique to Northern Ireland including support for their programme to remove peace walls
  • Devolving corporation tax powers to bring in a 12.5% rate in line with the Republic of Ireland
  • Measures to address the issue of flags and parades
  • Reform of the Stormont Assembly including on its size, the number of departments and the use of petitions of concerns as a form of opposition
  • Concerted efforts to target organised and cross-border crime
  • Fresh obligations on Northern Ireland parties to work together to end the presence of paramilitarism

This is a good day for Northern Ireland a fresh start for devolved government.

This Agreement deals with the issues that have cast the greatest shadow over the future of the devolved institutions here.

– Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said