BORIS JOHNSON predicted a ‘very bright future’ for Northern Ireland as he met its leaders to mark the return of devolution yesterday.
The prime minister promised healthcare would receive ‘huge commitments’ financially from Westminster.
And he stood by the Conservatives’ pre-election pledge to protect armed forces veterans, who served during The Troubles, from unfair prosecutions without new evidence coming forward.
‘Never mind the hand of history on my shoulder… I see the hand of the future beckoning us all forward,’ Mr Johnson said after meeting Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster and her deputy Michelle O’Neill at Stormont.
‘And I hope that, with goodwill and compromise and hard work on all sides, it will be a very bright future indeed.’
Mr Johnson said it was vital public spending was properly vetted to ensure crises such as the botched green energy scheme that caused the Stormont collapse three years ago aren’t repeated.
But Mrs Foster warned the PM he must make good on spending promises, with a Stormont minister saying at least £2billion was required to make the power-sharing deal work.
‘We need significant and sustained investment, not just this year but over a number of years. This is crucial in ensuring transformation in areas such as health and also our road and water infrastructures,’ Mrs Foster said.
Mr Johnson later met Ireland’s prime minister Leo Varadkar, who declared: ‘North-south cooperation is going to resume. We are going to beef up and deepen co-operation.’