Northern Ireland

Stormont House Agreement: UUP 'right to reserve judgement'

Stormont politicians Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption The Stormont House Agreement was published after a final 30-hour final push at the end of the talks in December

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said his party executive was right to reserve judgement on the Stormont House Agreement.

The talks on welfare, the past, flags and parades involved the British and Irish governments and lasted 12 weeks, ending just before Christmas.

Stormont will get £2bn in extra spending power from the UK government.

About 100 members of the Ulster Unionists' ruling executive studied the agreement on Saturday.

Mr Nesbitt said he had undertaken not to recommend the deal but to give it "a fair wind".

He said he was not surprised by the outcome of the meeting with members agreeing simply to "note" what had been agreed.

"Remember that they rejected Hillsborough in 2010 and Hass in 2014. They have not rejected this so-called Stormont House Agreement.

"They are just expressing concerns about how it will be implemented, whether or not there are side deals and whether it really does address the financial difficulties and these are very severe," he said.

Both Mr Nesbitt and First Minister Peter Robinson have criticised Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers' decision to abandon plans to set up a panel to examine the north Belfast parading impasse.

It was not part of the pre-Christmas negotiation. However, Mr Robinson said he now wanted to meet the Orange Order to discuss the situation.

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