‘The days of under the table deals, funny handshakes must become a thing of the past’ – By Clare Bailey MLA 

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Presumptions are rife in Northern Ireland politics. I’ve been an MLA for well over a year now and I see the acceptance of truth around many things that are uncertain.

One such acceptance surrounds the fiscal responsibility of the traditional parties – particularly the DUP.

When Arlene Foster became leader of the DUP she talked up her attention to detail. She portrayed herself as a safe pair of hands when it came to our economy and public finances.

The Green Party has challenged this presumption on a consistent basis given Arlene Foster’s track record since her days as Minister for the Environment.

We flagged up the 2013 Mills Review, highlighting Arlene Foster’s failure as DoE Minister in relation to environmental governance and regulation.

Arlene Foster failed again during her tenure as DETI Minister with the collapse of a major offshore wind farm project.

Throw RHI, Red Sky, SIF and Nama into the mix and we quickly debunk the myth that the DUP is the party of fiscal responsibility.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew was grilled on manifesto costings during the last Westminster campaign during many media interviews. That scrutiny was entirely appropriate and we were pleased to offer a fully costed manifesto, setting out how we would finance much needed public service protection and improvement.

Compare this with the approach of the traditional parties – their manifesto proposals were largely uncosted and revolved around a border poll proposal or matters concerning the Union.

So, let’s reject the presumption that the DUP is fiscally responsible and look at the formation of the next Westminster government.

The DUP should be negotiating a deal that puts people firstly – a deal that doesn’t prioritise corporate interests over our schools and hospitals.

Any deal must be entirely transparent and open to scrutiny. The mistrust fostered by the dark money episode and the Secretary of State’s unwillingness to introduce transparency on donations cannot continue.

Any DUP/Tory deal also must introduce an accountability framework so that we can be sure that any financial dividend is used to benefit people right across Northern Ireland.

The days of under the table deals, funny handshakes and friends of friends must become a thing of the past.

Transparency, accountability and clean politics are guiding stars as far as I am concerned.


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