What does the agreement say? With only 14 pages, divided into duplicates — the devil is certainly not in the details. Point 25 is interesting, a 12-month research project to establish a historical chronology of fact and a statistical analysis of the problems. People may be wondering if there are not many reports already on the problems, and what will be the additional understanding of those issues — a government-approved version of what happened? With regard to social reform and budget deficit management, more detail is needed on how the mitigations will be for Northern Ireland and how the departmental spending plans published before Christmas will be affected by the supplementary financial package. Northern Ireland has added a new addition to the peace agreement lexicon – Hillsborough, Good Friday, Belfast and St Andrews are now complemented by “Stormont House”.” The fact that there is even a Stormont house is a surprise to many that our local politicians left it until the last minute to pull a rabbit out of their hat. Late last year, NICVA asked its members for a large number of topics that are now covered by the agreement. There was a consensus that the number of departments is currently too high, and 90% of respondents said there should be eight or fewer departments. 61% wanted to abolish the compulsory coalition, 71% an official opposition. As a result, progress has been made in this regard. The last paragraphs are obligations to progress, verify and track the commitments of the agreement. This agreement was both an agreement between most of Northern Ireland`s political parties at the time and an international agreement between the British and Irish governments. Social reform has also been the subject of wide-ranging differences between members of the executive (particularly Sinn Féin) and the UK government. The Ministry of Finance was determined that Northern Ireland would adopt social reform and fined the executive for failing to do so.
Within the executive, the parties were divided. While Sinn Féin had opposed the adoption of social reform, the Democratic Unionist Party had tried to do so, arguing that it was inevitable and that an omission from London would result in further fines. One of the priority objectives of the Stormont House agreement, particularly from the point of view of the British government, was to resolve the welfare dispute and to adopt reforms. It is clear that progress has been made on social assistance – an important sensitive point for Sinn Fein – and we must now wait to see what steps have been taken to remedy our `special circumstances`, given that, in addition to the tax exemptions already guaranteed for bedrooms, there is expected to be some postponement of the penalties for the disability allowance.