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Senan Molony: €1bn is going to the North from Republic coffers – and that’s only for starters



Ministers and officials here have been quietly pledging funds over the last year as the long choreography of restoring the Executive and Assembly was playing out.

The headlines were grabbed by the DUP’s trumpeting of a £3.3bn (€3.86bn) windfall from London, which it claimed to have negotiated, and which it then tried to negotiate some more.

This money will largely go towards placating the wage demands of the North’s public servants.

Then there will be United States investment, which was quietly pledged. Joe Kennedy III, the US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, was a recent visitor to the North, just as the institutions were reforming. He believes the North’s unparalleled market access, supported by the Windsor Framework, is a “distinct attraction” for international investors.

But the Republic’s siphon of cash into the North will be significant too.

There is no specific voter consent for this State’s money to be spent in another jurisdiction. Arguably, none is required, since the allocation of all exchequer monies – as in the case of overseas aid – is a matter for the ­Government.

But it’s going to be at least a billion quid before the end of the decade. Expect that figure to increase.

On a wearisome Wednesday afternoon this week, mellow Micheál Martin quietly stitched the relevant details into the Dáil record during a largely deserted debate slot on Northern Ireland developments.

“Through the Shared Island initiative I established as taoiseach, we are strengthening cross-border infrastructure and investing in innovation, research and skills,” Mr Martin said.

“As a Government, we are putting in significant resources – €1bn up to the end of this decade.

“We are supporting projects, large and small, which are focused on bringing people together, and investing in infrastructure, dialogue and innovation to better position this island for the years to come.”

Tens of millions will go into the A5 road, which connects Donegal to Dublin through the North.

There will be health and community initiatives, and a bridge at Narrow Water, outside Warrenpoint, Co Down, where 18 British paratroopers were killed in an explosion in August 1979. British peer Louis Mountbatten was assassinated in Co Sligo on the same day.

The Republic will also contribute most of the money to the reconstruction of Casement Park in Belfast – because unionists have a strong aversion to funding it.

The disused stadium, a GAA stronghold, desperately needs total reconstruction in order to support the joint British and Irish hosting of the Euro 2028 football tournament. It is scheduled to host five games at Euro 2028.

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