2 November 2006 Edition
The Mary Nelis Column
Governments must put money where their mouths are
Despite DUP blustering that they will not be bought off in the sale of the Century, the concept of Bertie's gold may in the end be too alluring to resist. The Sunday Times has hinted that mega bucks to the tune of €57 billion could find its way North to co-fund healthcare, hospitals and energy - very tempting in a place where many people still live in Third World conditions.
The political parties understand, have no wish to repeat the cash strapped economic disaster of the previous Assembly.
A cross party delegation of Northern politicians will meet Gordon Brown this week and tell him that after 35 years of conflict, the Six Counties needs at least £1 billion per year over and above the block grant to get this place on its feet and create the much sought after level playing field.
The nationalist community, who consistently make the top ten of the indices of poverty and disadvantage, have been given the fingers by a government hell-bent on continuing the sectarian pay-off to its faithful servants.
The financial rewards, described as 'blood money' by one newspaper, of £250 million to the RIR, the home regiment of the British Army and successor to the UDR and B Specials surprised no one in the Nationalist community. Nor did the demand by unionist paramilitaries for mega bucks in return for not killing Catholics. These mercenaries who prosecuted Britain's dirty war in Ireland have always been more interested in the Queens shilling than the Queen.
While this may be of little consolation to the bereaved and injured of the last 30 years, it is part of the painful struggle towards a resolution of the conflict and eventually a peaceful Ireland.
There is no doubt that savings from the security budget alone need to be directed to solving the infrastructure neglect in roads, water and the environment created by the British Government over the years. Instead the community is now facing enormous increases in rates, water charges, housing and electricity.
There are no golden handshakes or pay-offs for relatives from the republican or nationalist community, who were killed or injured during the conflict, the prisoners tortured in interrogation centres and prisons, the mental health problems associated with prolonged fear and anxiety and flagged up in a report released this week.
One doesn't have to be a mathematician to observe that even with pay-offs to the security industry personnel, undisclosed pay-offs to touts and securocrats, that monies outstanding have not found their way to addressing the deprivation resulting from years of discrimination prior to the conflict.
If the British and Irish Governments are serious of ridding this wee island of the sectarian murder machine that is British unionism, they need to put their money where their mouths are.