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New Northern Ireland Political Deal Will Protect Most Vulnerable: Deputy FM

© wikipedia.orgMartin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness - Sputnik International
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Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister hailed a cross-party agreement that will see an additional $3.1billion (£2billion) coming to Belfast.

BELFAST, December 23 (Sputnik) — Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness hailed a cross-party agreement on Tuesday that will see an additional $3.1billion (£2billion) coming to Belfast.

"There has been progress on significant issues including a financial package and we have protected the most vulnerable in society against the Tory welfare cuts," McGuinness, a former IRA (Irish Republican Army) Commander, said. "These protections are unique to the north of Ireland and are in sharp contrast to the austerity-driven welfare system being rolled out in Britain."

The British and Irish governments have given their backing to the new agreement that will also address the contentious issues of flags, parades and dealing with the so-called "legacy issues" arising from the 30-year-long Anglo-Irish conflict known as the Troubles.

But the negotiations, which lasted 12 weeks and were sparked by warnings from both Irish republicans and British unionists that the peace process was on the point of collapse, have not been welcomed by every political party.

"The SDLP [The Social Democratic and Labour Party] negotiated long and hard for a comprehensive deal," SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said in a statement Tuesday. "This is what people, victims and survivors looked for. There are strengths in today's outcome but there are also some weaknesses. For all the efforts, the outcome is not comprehensive."

The Anglo-Irish conflict claimed over 3,500 lives and wounded a further 47,500 people. The conflict was propelled by disagreement over the constitutional status of Northern Ireland.

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